herald

Sunday 19 January 2020

Gardai bust Irish mob linked to fake passport and ID gang in Europe

Gardai worked with Spanish police in Operation Mombasa
Gardai worked with Spanish police in Operation Mombasa

Gardai have smashed an organised crime gang linked to an international identity fraud network operating in at least seven European jurisdictions.

The gang were charging "customers" up to €400 each for bogus papers.

Officers from the National Immigration Bureau uncovered the network's Irish base yesterday and seized a haul of suspected false documentation, phones, financial records and cash.

The international group, which is under investigation for identity fraud in at least seven European jurisdictions, is reckoned to have netted an estimated €500,000 in payments over the past couple of years.

The Irish-based gang is connected to a pan-European group, largely dominated by Georgian nationals, involved in the large-scale production and distribution of false identity and travel documents, including passports, national ID cards and driving licences.

Officers made the find during a search in west Dublin and arrested a 22-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman. Both suspects were taken to Blanch- ardstown Garda Station.

A 61-year-old man was also arrested in Finglas yesterday and taken to Mountjoy Garda Station.

The searches and arrests were part of Operation Mombasa, which also resulted in the arrest of another suspect by Spanish national police in Barcelona on Monday.

More false documents, flight tickets and bookings and evidence from parcel delivery services were found in the Barcelona searches.

Gardai also arrested another suspect, a 47-year-old man, last Thursday, and he is being held in Ballymun Garda Station.

Three Spanish police officers and the garda liaison officer to Spain, who is based in Madrid, were present yesterday during the search.

Similar police investigations into suspected identity fraud and the activities of an international organised crime gang are under way in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Britain and Finland, with the assistance of Europol and agencies in the US.

Operation Mombasa began in Ireland late last year to look into the activities of foreign nationals known to be resident here.

Many of the suspects involved are using false identity documents while living and working in this country for the past few years.

MInquiries

Follow-up inquiries established some of those Georgian nationals had sourced false documents from Ireland.

Gardai, with the help of An Post, intercepted packages that had been addressed to foreign nationals in various European states. These led to a number of searches and the arrest of a man in May last year.

Gardai said inquiries established a suspected network of two families from Georgia, living in Dublin, were allegedly producing false documents for people across Europe.

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