A MAJOR garda investigation across the country in relation to fraud marriages has led to two premises in Limerick being raided and the arrest of one person, who is currently being detained at Henry Street station in the city for alleged fraud offences.
Gardai told the Limerick Leader that as of noon this Wednesday a total of 11 people had been arrested so far for a variety of offences under the Immigration Act and Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act.
They are being held at Henry Street station in Limerick, Ballyhaunis and Finglas Garda station.
In addition, a large amount of computers, memory devices, phones and documents including false identity documents, driving licences and marriage certificates have been seized.
A stun gun and quantities of cash, amounting to some €30,000, have also been seized during the course of the searches.
Operation Vantage was set up this August by the Garda National Immigration Bureau to investigate illegal immigration and identify marriages of convenience.
“Recent trends indicate a large number of new notifications of intention to marry from males from the Indian sub-continent (such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh) to females from EU countries, particularly Portugal and Eastern European countries,” said a garda spokesperson.
“This operation has identified a number of criminal networks based in Ireland and the UK who are engaged in the facilitation of these marriages through the provision of false information and documentation to marriage registrars, thus exploiting the asylum and immigration system.
“These criminal elements are gleaning huge profits by organising residency status for non-EU nationals through these marriages of convenience.”
A large number of searches were conducted across the country today by over 200 Garda members including those attached to Operation Vantage, supported by resources from National units including the Criminal Assets Bureau and Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, and local Garda units.
Forty-two searches were conducted of both residential and business premises across the country, including two premises in Limerick, to gather evidence of fraud offences related to the organised facilitation of marriages of convenience and any offences under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010.
Gardai said that this operation has also uncovered a number of people subject to deportation orders attempting to avail of a marriage of convenience. In addition, two convicted non-EU national sex offenders were also attempting to register to marry. Both of these have since been arrested.
- More to follow in the weekend editions