Europol Cracks Down on Fake Marriage Network with 15 Arrests

27 February 2024

In a significant crackdown on illegal immigration, a Europol-led operation, codenamed “Operational Task Force Limassol,” has successfully dismantled a criminal ring involved in orchestrating sham marriages. The operation was spearheaded by Cyprus, with substantial support from Latvia, Portugal, and Eurojust.

Authorities have made 15 arrests across Cyprus, Latvia, and Portugal. According to the Police in Cyprus, four individuals are suspected of organizing over 130 fake weddings designed to facilitate the illegal residency of third-country nationals within the European Union.

The investigation revealed that the criminal network was not only arranging sham marriages but was also implicated in other illicit activities including money laundering, conspiracy to commit a felony, aiding illegal entry and residence, and document forgery.

Testimonies have been secured against several individuals linked to a total of 133 sham marriages conducted in Cyprus. These unions typically involved women from Portugal and Latvia and men from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

On January 29, 2024, a coordinated day of action resulted in the execution of property searches and the arrest of 15 suspects to aid in the ongoing investigation. Thirteen individuals were apprehended in Cyprus, while one arrest was made in Latvia and another in Portugal. Four main suspects are currently facing charges, with two arrested in Cyprus and two abroad on European arrest warrants.

The detainees in Cyprus appeared before the Larnaca District Court and were remanded until February 7. Extradition procedures for the two arrested abroad are underway.

The operation drew on the collaborative efforts of the Europol National Unit, the TAE of Nicosia and Larnaca, the Aliens and Immigration Service, and the Legal Service of the Republic of Cyprus. Europol provided critical support through information exchange, coordination, funding of operational activities, and direct operational assistance.

This successful operation marks a significant step in combating illegal immigration practices within the EU and underscores the importance of international cooperation in addressing cross-border criminal activities.

Sham marriages

Do you have any questions about the topic of this publication?

Send a request and get a free consultation:

Business Cyprus News

Thanks for the apply!
We will get back to you within 1 business day
In the meantime, you can get a free consultation from our AI assistant:​