The alleged ring master of the network is reportedly a well known real estate magnate nicknamed ‘La Lechera’, who has previously been investigated over claims she runs a number of brothels.
A total of 24 people were arrested including her two sons and her lawyer.
Immigration police became suspicious over a large number of immigrants supposedly living at the same addresses. An investigation started last March which lead to officers quickly realising all the addresses were owned by the same woman.
Police say that the ring was charging up to 1,200 euros. Immigrants from non-EU countries can apply to bring their families to live with them if they can show they can support them.
Fake paperwork supplied would deceive notaries who would then certified the places of work and residence of the heads of families.
A notary is required to visit the home to certify it as being fit for family habitation. But the men were only lent the keys to the apartments for an afternoon whilst the notary visited. This was sufficient to apply to start the family immigration process.
Inspector Francisco Castillo said that many of these applications proved to be “blatantly false”, with the application holders neither living in salubrious conditions nor having fixed work contracts. “The ring concentrated its attentions upon north Africans mainly” the inspector explained.
A Moroccan man was arrested on charges of acting as a salesman for the gang. He would find potential clients amongst his community and introduce them to his bosses. The man has since given a full confession to police, which allowed the “La Lechera” to be taken down by police. In a further operation, some sixteen of her clients were also arrested on charges of fraud.
Police say nobody at the notaries were in on the scam, and that they too were victims of the fraud.