“The two heads of the network are women.” International trafficking in false documents dismantled by the police

“The two heads of the network are women.” International trafficking in false documents dismantled by the police
“The two heads of the network are women.” International trafficking in false documents dismantled by the police

A network of manufacturers of false papers in the agricultural sector was dismantled this week. Nine people were arrested in Labouheyre, in Landes. Three others have been identified in Spain.

They had formed an international network. From Colombia, and more widely South America, forgers provided false papers to agricultural workers, recruited in America to come and work in the South-West of France.

In total, this Monday, June 10, twelve people were arrested, including nine in France, by police officers from Pyrénées-Atlantiques, assisted by those from Gironde. The others were in Spain. They are all of Colombian or Ecuadorian nationality. “The two network heads are women”, specifies a police source to AFP. During the searches, the police got their hands on loot: numerous telephones and computers, counterfeit Spanish and French identity cards as well as several tens of thousands of euros in cash.

It all starts with an authenticity check requested by the Mutuelle sociale agricole (MSA). Identity documents, provided by employees of asparagus or tomato farms in the north of the Landes, appear suspicious to them. After verification, the documents are indeed fake. Five workers were then arrested. This is the starting point of the investigation.

For 18 months, investigators from the Office for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Migrants in Hendaye, the Spanish and Colombian police and the Europol agency traced the network that had been formed between Colombia and Europe. “We uncovered a large network which was active in a sector where there is a great need for labor,” underlines an OLTIM source. More than 180 people would have benefited from false papers.

A judicial investigation has since been opened to continue the investigation which reveals “double” trafficking. On the one hand, false physical papers, manufactured in Turkey, were sold to migrants for €1,000.

But a digital version was also offered. Made in Colombia from identity cards stolen in Spain, the documents were “rented” for €250 per month, after an “entrance fee” of €1,000. On these stolen papers, only the photo was modified.

If the investigation continues, there is currently nothing to blame the French employers of the migrants concerned.

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