Spanish police bust fake marriage racket, detain 20

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Spanish police have busted a gang suspected of arranging marriages of convenience to help illegal immigrants, mostly Nigerians, gain residency permits in Spain, they said Thursday.

They arrested 20 people in Madrid, Valencia and Alicante in the operation, which followed an investigation launched in May 2009, police said in a statement.

For 12,000 euros (nearly 17,000 dollars), the gang of Spaniards and Nigerians "handled everything necessary to set up fake marriages" that would give the foreigners legal residential status in Spain and in the European Union.

"Those involved in these fake marriages never met each other and would never know each other despite their status as 'spouses'," the police said.

In addition to providing fake documents, the gang found witnesses to back the authenticity of the sham marriages.

In some cases, the gang organised fake marriages in Nigeria between Nigerian women and Spanish men which were registered at the Spanish consulate in Lagos.

© 2010 AFP

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