A latex face mask to evade biometric checks at border posts and up to 25 different identities. In Benalmádena (Málaga, population 70,204), the National Police arrested a fugitive who investigators consider to be one of the biggest forgers of documents in Europe. The investigator has been living with his wife, who is also in prison, on the Costa del Sol since June, the month he fled his country, Latvia, to flee justice. The agents also dismantled an entire laboratory for making forged documents that was installed in an apartment. The room had computers, printers, presses, plates, molds and many other tools to produce “high quality” forged documents, according to police sources. As an example, the 25 different names he had made for himself.
The arrested man had settled on the coast of Malaga after fleeing his country’s justice system. He had a valid European Arrest Warrant (OEDE), but thanks to his multiple identities he was able to elude the police authorities. To avoid suspicion, he had rented two apartments in Benalmádena. In one he lived with his wife. In the other he had set up his office: a complete laboratory in which he had everything he needed to forge documents down to the smallest detail. 86 forged documents of various types and nationalities – such as driver’s licenses – were found at the scene, which can be sent by post, as well as more than 10,000 euros in cash, in addition to the latex mask believed to have used the fugitive in face checks went unnoticed at the border. And that it could also be used to obtain biometric data from potential customers to include in the chips of forged documents, thus increasing the quality of their forgeries.
Dubbed Riga, the operation, sponsored by the national police and security forces of Latvia and Poland, began last June. The Latvian authorities then informed the Spanish authorities that they had lost sight of an experienced forger of documents they had arrested. They then activated the international search warrant but also warned they believed he was hiding on the Costa del Sol, a common destination for refugees from around the world. Agents then began tracking his whereabouts until they found him in Benalmádena. At first, they didn’t know if he just moved to live or to continue his illegal activities, but after setting up a surveillance device, they discovered that he kept his job as a counterfeiter. In fact, he frequently received the supplies necessary for his work and large sums of money. In fact, by collaborating with the Customs Supervision Service of the Tax Agency, a package destined for France containing a fake ID from another European country was intercepted.
The investigation ended with the entry and search of both the apartment where the forger and fugitive lived with his partner and the house where he was suspected of maintaining his illegal activities. At that last location was found “a complete and highly professional laboratory” with state-of-the-art computer equipment, as well as presses, plates, molds and many other tools used to falsify documents, according to the National said police said on Thursday.
According to the researchers, it’s not uncommon to “find a lab of this specialization, with such sophisticated instruments, run by an international refugee.” Among the items confiscated are 86 forged identity documents – many of them with a photograph of the identified person with different names and nationalities – as well as 10,150 euros in cash.
Examples of forged documents used by the National Police to arrest a fugitive in Benalmádena (Málaga), some on behalf of Brad Pitt. Nacho Sanchez
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The operation, coordinated by the Documentary Fraud Investigation Section (SIFD) with the support of the Immigration Networks and Falsified Documentary Unit (UCRIF) and members of the Latvian and Polish police, who are meeting in Malaga this morning, was one of the first major successes of the so-called Athens Point, launched by the Immigration and Borders Police Station in December last year. It’s a call center where any agent can instantly see any ID document they doubt its accuracy. By phone or email, those in charge of the device can quickly study and compare the characteristics of each document and help police officers determine if they may be dealing with forged documents.