Six arrested in PJ operation that dismantled illegal immigration organization

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The Judiciary Police today arrested six people in the Lisbon region as part of an operation that dismantled an illegal immigration criminal organization operating in several European countries.

In a statement, the PJ indicates that the National Counter-Terrorism Unit of that police carried out today a police operation aimed at dismantling an organization with criminal activity operating in Portugal, France, Spain and Germany suspected of crimes of criminal association, trafficking in persons, aid to illegal immigration and forgery of documents.

According to the PJ, the network now dismantled provided immigrants in an irregular situation throughout Europe the possibility of moving to Portugal in order to regularize their situation with the Foreigners and Borders Service in order to obtain residence permits, mostly using forged documents.

The PJ stresses that the police operation was developed in several phases, namely with the execution and fulfillment of 18 home search warrants and six arrest warrants issued by the Department of Investigation and Penal Action (DIAP) Lisbon, having this action focus on central Lisbon, Vila Franca de Xira and south bank of the Tagus.

That police also advances that it was made inspection of hotel establishments linked to the criminal network and that welcomed illegal immigrants, and the authorities also carried out approaches on the road to vehicles carrying illegal immigrants and preparing to enter Portugal.

This operation involved the participation of about 110 inspectors from the Judiciary Police, with the support of SEF and ASAE, as well as elements from the countries involved in this JIT (Joint Investigation Team).

The investigation started in Portugal in February 2022 and resulted from close cooperation with European judicial authorities, with EUROJUST, through a JIT, coordinating the different investigations, with the support of Europol.

The investigation, led by the Lisbon DIAP, identified 337 transports between Lisbon / Paris / Lisbon, with a total of more than 6000 illegal immigrants.

The PJ also said that the detainees will be presented to the investigating judge for first judicial interrogation and consequent subjection to coercive measures.

A police source told Lusa that at stake is the electronic platform Automatic Pre-Arrangement System (SAPA) of the Foreigners and Borders Service, which allows immigrants to request an expression of interest from SEF to obtain a residence permit and thus circulate in the European Union based on alleged employment contracts.

The changes made to the Foreigners’ Law in 2017 allow the entry into Portugal of immigrants who have requested, through SAPA, an expression of interest to work in the country, waiting for a contact from SEF to start the process of obtaining a residence permit, which often does not materialize.

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