Man who earned €350k from sham marriages deported after major garda operation
A man who admitted organising more than fifty marriages of convenience for asylum seekers has been deported following a major garda investigation.
Officers from the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) smashed a network headed by Mauritian native, Resen Modeley, after an operation lasting 15 months.
Modeley was identified as a key player in the growing racket after Operation Vantage was set up in August last year.
Two weeks ago he was convicted in Dublin circuit criminal court of three counts of deception and sentenced to two years imprisonment.
The judge suspended 22 months of the sentence for five years on condition that Modeley consented to being deported to Mauritius. He was sent back at the weekend.
The operation was set up by the head of the bureau, Det Chief Supt Dave Dowling, after officers noted a huge increase in the number of number of asylum applications and marriages of convenience, also known as sham marriages, mainly involving males in the 18-35 age group from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
The increase followed changes in visa policies in the UK and led to abuses of the common travel area, with applicants arriving across the Border from Northern Ireland and then marrying Portuguese women, in particular.
Detectives began focusing on "fixers", who were arranging these marriages and one of the top suspects was quickly identified as Moseley, who had been living here for several years and based in an apartment in Drumcondra on the northside of Dublin.
Modeley was found to be locating the women with the help of a female associate in Portugal and social media advertising, facilitating their transportation to Ireland, arranging short-term temporary accommodation and providing fraudulent documentation in an attempt to support their applications.
Most of the women did not stay here but flew in and out of the country after registering here.
By his own admission, Modeley arranged at least 50 bogus marriages, charging €7,000 for each of them and netting a total of €350,000 profit, minus relatively minor expenses.
A fee was agreed with the women but few of them received more than a small retainer while the marriages were being finalised.
Modeley had also taken part in a marriage of convenience but has long since separated from his "bride".
He was one of 15 suspected fixers identified by the immigration bureau during the investigation.
During the operation gardai received assistance from the authorities in Portugal, Latvia, the UK, Czech Republic, Estonia and other European countries.
In 2015 asylum applications jumped up by 127pc from 1,438 to 3,271, compared to the previous year.
Applications from Pakistani males rose from 292 in 2014 to 1,352 in 2015 and they accounted for 41pc of all asylum claims.
As a result of garda inquiries, sham marriages involving Pakistani males dropped from 461 between January and August last year to 120 in the corresponding period this year while those involving Indians dropped from 147 to 38 and Bangladeshi males from 68 to 17 and there was also a 95pc reduction in the number of Portuguese women taking part.
The breakthrough for the gardai came late last year when more than 200 officers carried out 42 searches across the nation. Half of them were at homes and business premises in Dublin while eight more swoops were in Mayo, four in Louth, three in Kildare, two each in Longford and one each in Meath and Cork.
These resulted in 13 arrests on the day of the operation and an overall total of 63 arrests to date.
A senior garda officer said the immigration bureau were determined to continue their inquiries to halt the racket involving sham marriage fixers.
The sham marriages flourished initially because of a loophole in the law, created after the High Court struck down legislation, which had allowed gardai to combat abuses.
But a new law, introduced by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, gave widespread powers to registrars to investigate a planned marriage, if suspicions had been aroused.
Officers from the Garda national fraud bureau have also examined a number of financial accounts to determine if money held there had been gleaned from the racket.