By Stavros Nikolaou
Police are worried by a surge in the number of third country nationals attempting to travel to the EU with forged documents.
To address what is evolving into a real headache, police said they are stepping up checks at the airports.
In recent days, 17 people were found to be carrying forged documents while trying to travel to France and Italy. They have been arrested and will be prosecuted Paphos police spokesman Michalis Ioannou told the Cyprus Mail.
“All of them are from Congo. Although most refuse to cooperate and claim the right to remain silent, the information indicates they are obtaining the ID documents from an illegal network operating in the occupied areas,” he said. Police are cooperating with the bi-communal committee on crime for information that will be helpful.
“There is direct cooperation with Interpol France to identify these individuals. The IDs seem to be original, while according to the data, some of them have been declared lost or stolen,” he noted.
Ioannou says the cases concern adults traveling alone or as couples from Paphos Airport to Paris Beauvais Airport. The photographs on the documents have stark differences from those attempting to use them to travel.
The usual price for a fake travel document, according to Ioannou, is around €1000 or more. Those arrested face charges of conspiracy and forgery that can carry a sentence of up to three years in prison, while traffickers of such documents can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.