Spanish National police have detained 30 suspected members of a criminal organistation that facilitated illegal immigration by organising sham marriages with EU citizens.
According to a police statement, the gang set up marriages of convenience between north African migrants and Spanish women, charging 12,000 euros for the service, one quarter of which went to the fake spouse. Once married, the migrants were able to apply for a residence card and formalise their immigration status.
The organisation was based in the town of Sagunto near Valencia, and had branches in Morocco, Belgium, France and Italy.
The investigation began when the police discovered certain irregularities in a number of residence permit applications in Sagunto.
The two alleged leaders of network, a Spaniard and a French citizen both of Moroccan origin, owned several companies in Sagunto, which employed the Spanish whom the migrants married.
The gang leaders established a complex web of shell companies to launder the money earned from the sham marriages.
This is the second gang involved in sham marriages to be dismantled in the Spanish region of Valencia within a year. Last May, the local civil guard arrested 40 people of Spanish, Romanian, Indian and Venezuelan nationality who were also suspected of providing fake spouses for Indian men trying to gain EU citizenship.