15 arrested for arranging 133 sham marriages in Cyprus

06 February 2024
Knowledge Base

Judicial and law enforcement authorities in Cyprus, Portugal and Latvia have dismantled a criminal network suspected of organising 133 sham marriages in Cyprus to facilitate illegal immigration into the European Union. During a joint action day carried out on 29 January, 15 suspects were arrested: 13 in Cyprus, one in Latvia and one in Portugal. According to the investigations, the criminal network was also involved in human trafficking and money laundering activities, as well as forcing victims into bogus marriages for immigration purposes.

The suspects allegedly recruited Latvian and Portuguese women and facilitated their journeys to Cyprus, where they entered into arranged marriages with third-country nationals. The suspects arranged all of the logistics, including the purchase of flight tickets and the acquisition of passports and other required documents.

The marriages enabled the non-EU nationals to obtain residence permits from third countries, which they then used to travel to other European countries.

A total of nine cases have been opened at Eurojust since 2022 for the facilitation of execution of European Investigation Orders and European Arrest Warrants linked to this investigation. The Agency organised two dedicated coordination meetings and facilitated the judicial cooperation between the authorities involved during the action day.

Europol’s Operational Task Force (OTF) Limassol was set up to facilitate the joint efforts of Cyprus, Latvia and Portugal to dismantle this criminal network. Europol supported this OTF by facilitating information exchanges, coordinating and financing operational activities and providing tailored operational analytical support. During the action day, Europol supported the field activities by crosschecking the operational information collected in real time.

The following authorities took part in this investigation:

  • Cyprus: Law Office of Republic of Cyprus, Cyprus Police
  • Latvia: Prosecutor General’s Office, State Police of Latvia
  • Portugal: Lisbon Public Prosecution Office, Judicial Police

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