The prosecution is asking for jail sentences for all 11 suspects. File image of Malaga law courts.. / sur

Eleven arrested for helping illegal immigrants obtain residence permits in Spain

Police say the gang organised marriages of convenience, produced fake documentation, jobs and addresses and charged the migrants 9,000 euros a time

JUAN CANO MMALAGA.

Police have broken up a “perfectly structured” gang who are accused of helping illegal immigrants to obtain residence permits in Spain, either through marriages of convenience or by falsifying documents to make it look as if they met the criteria to live in the country legally.

The group is believed to have carried out numerous transactions of this type in Malaga, Madrid, Murcia and Zaragoza since 2017, charging 9,000 euros a time. Eleven people have been arrested.

Fake documents

Prosecutors say the organisation assisted migrants, mainly from the Sub-Sahara and especially from Ghana, to live in Spain through irregular means. In many cases they would provide fake documentation to make it look as if the would-be migrant had links with someone in an EU country, such as a spouse or civil partner, or a family member already there.

For those applying by other means, they would bring the applicant to Spain for just the time needed to carry out essential administrative procedures.

To make it appear that they were able to support themselves financially, the group would register the migrant with Social Security, either as self-employed or as an employee, and then de-register them once the police checks had been carried out. In the case of those registered as employees, the companies existed in name only and were never operative. The gang also opened bank accounts for them which were never actually used.

Members of the gang would use their own addresses for the applicants, and would take out health insurance for them on a temporary basis. They also provided them with fake passports, and to show a family link, especially for those under 21, they would produce fake Ghanaian birth certificates.

The prosecution is asking for the leader of the gang to be given an 11-year jail sentence, and for eight and a half years in prison for the other ten suspects. The case is due to be heard in June.