TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian police have arrested 24 people involved in an alleged criminal organization who produced false documents to illegally smuggle people into the United States, Canada and Britain.
A statement Tuesday said a joint operation with the U.S. embassy’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) arrested two dozen Albanians on Monday and charged them with illegal people smuggling, producing false documents and belonging to a criminal group.
The operation was initiated by the DSS a year ago after a false U.S. passport was seized. The investigation discovered how an international criminal organization facilitated illegal border crossings and produced false documents like ID cards, passports, driving licenses and health insurance cards.
The group used travel and tourism agencies, securing travel tickets, bus transport and accommodation mainly in Italy and Germany for people in Albania, Kosovo or other countries aiming to illegally cross into the U.S., Canada and Britain.
During the last year, 12 other people were arrested in different European countries using or possessing false documents.
On Monday some 300 Albanian police officers made the arrests in raids in Tirana, the capital, and some other cities.
Albania and Kosovo are among the poorest countries in Europe and many citizens try to go to richer countries for better economic prospects.