Dozens to be deported after using fake papers to get taxi licences
A major multi-agency operation being spearheaded by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) has smashed an elaborate scam in which at least 180 non-EU nationals obtained taxi licences using fraudulent applications.
Investigations into 134 foreign taxi drivers has so far resulted in a group of 55 of them having their residency status revoked, with 25 of the same group now subject to deportation.
Another four have been arrested for the purposes of deportation and a further two have already been removed from the State.
But senior sources have confirmed that they have now identified up to 180 “cases of concern” where individuals who either have already obtained taxi licences or are in the process of applying for one, are under active investigation and that figure may rise even further.
The disturbing revelation follows a day of action on Tuesday during which GNIB mounted a series of raids at addresses in Dublin’s north inner-city, Lucan and Palmerstown as part of Operation Vantage, a four year-long enquiry into widespread immigration fraud which is generating millions for organised crime gangs.
On Tuesday 15 individuals were identified for further investigation after evidence was uncovered that they had been involved in so-called sham marriages.
Another seven people were found to be living here without any immigration permission with one of them arrested for immigration offences.
It is understood that officers seized a large amount of evidence which is currently being analysed and sources say that while a total of 180 people are currently under scrutiny the number of illegal non-EU nationals who obtained taxi licences over recent years could be much higher.
The ongoing Operation Vantage was initially launched in 2015 by GNIB boss Chief Supt. Dave Dowling to target sham registry office marriages between non-EU asylum seekers and non-Irish EU females who were paid to take part in the nuptials.
Officers noted a surge in the number of applications for asylum which were followed up with notifications of intention to marry a non-Irish EU national.
In particular there had been a spike in the number of applications from Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi males with 760 giving notification to marry in the nine months from January 2015 alone.
Under EU law once married the spouse is entitled to claim EU treaty rights which enables them to travel, live and work anywhere within the 27 states.
The men then typically divorce their fake partners with many applying to secure family reunification rights for relatives living outside the EU which is conservatively estimated to have cost the State an average of €20 million per year.
Gardai have established that the majority of the non-Irish EU 'brides' - described as being socially and economically vulnerable females - were trafficked by criminals from ten Eastern EU States for the sham Irish nuptials.
Many of the men involved in the fake marriages later used fraudulent documentation to obtain PSV licences.
As a result of the investigation two Algerian ISIS supporters and a number of sex offenders were deported.
A Bangladeshi national whose bogus marriage to an Eastern European woman allowed him to join the gardai was also identified while in training in Templemore.
He and another friend, who had also married, were subsequently deported.