A people-smuggling network based in Athens that tried to get Albanian migrants into the UK, has been busted by the Greek police, in cooperation with Albanian and UK authorities.
The gang provided Albanian migrants with fake Greek and Cypriot passports, in an attempt to get them into the UK.
Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) realized that hundreds of attempts each year were being made by migrants, who flew in to the UK via Spain, Italy and Sweden using fake passports and tickets.
The NCA launched Project Invigor, which provids intelligence via Europol, to Greek police as they investigated the source of the bogus passports and travel documents.
Seven Greeks and 13 Albanians have been arrested and are to be prosecuted in the Greek courts. The gang promised the Albanians a “guaranteed service” and offered multiple entry attempts if they were rejected the first time.
Greek police raided several addresses in Athens; arrested 20 people, and closed down four suspected document-forging laboratories where fake documents were being manufactured. Hundreds of passports and identity cards were also seized along with €55,000, and a gun.
The gang also provided fake documents to Albanians who were already in the UK so as to enable them to obtain work, while posing as Greek, Cypriot or Bosnian nationals.
The Albanians; who had paid traffickers around £4,000 each for the fake documents, would board budget airline flights to Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Edinburgh.