Staff Reporter

Police suspect involvement of Spanish Embassy official

The accused targeted unemployed young men eager to migrate to Europe in search of greener pastures

NEW DELHI: Five persons, including a Spaniard, have been arrested by the Crime Branch of the Delhi police for allegedly running a manpower racket through which people were being sent to Spain and other European countries on fraudulently obtained Schengen visas. The police have informed the Spanish Embassy here about the suspected involvement of one of its officials.

Trailing a human trafficking network sending unemployed men from Punjab to Europe on forged documents, the Special Operations Squad of the Crime Branch zeroed in on the suspects, Anand Malkani, Upkar Singh and their accomplices. Acting on a tip-off that they would come to Lajpat Nagar on December 17 to exchange forged papers, the police laid a trap and arrested Anand, Upkar, Satish Rattu and Maxon Tito.

Confessions

During interrogation, the accused confessed that they obtained visas on the basis of forged documents. They purportedly disclosed the names of a Spaniard, Gerardo Morante Mendez, and an official of the Spanish Embassy here. At their instance, the police arrested Gerardo the next day in Chanakyapuri and allegedly seized photocopies of four Schengen visas from him. During the operation, 12 passports, two laptops, a visa sticker and several other documents were seized.

The accused, who charged Rs.8 lakh to 10 lakh per client, mainly targeted unemployed young men in Punjab eager to migrate to Europe in search of greener pastures. Most of the applicants belonged to villages and did not have papers like Income-Tax returns, bank statements, invitation offers and pan cards that were necessary for obtaining a Schengen visa.

According to the police, the gang members forged the documents. Subsequently Gerardo would allegedly provide invitation letters. After fulfilling all the requirements, the passports were submitted at the Spanish Embassy where the accused official arranged visas. A photocopy of the issued visa would then be shown to the applicant to get the second instalment and final payment would be paid at the time of handing over of the passport bearing the visa.

Gerardo, who had been living in neighbouring Gurgaon, had links with the accused Spanish diplomat, the police added.