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News                                         The Portugal News • 19 Jan 2019 7

                          N N N N N   News in Brief              Europol breaks up sham

      Hotel guest numbers up in November                         Portuguese-Belgian marriage ring
      The number of guests in Portugal’s hotels and resorts climbed by
      more than six percent to 1.3 million for the month of November.
      The total amount of nights spent at hotels by these guests also  The EU’s law enforcement agency says authorities have dismantled a
      rose to 3.3 million on figures recorded 12 months earlier. The UK  gang suspected of organizing sham marriages between mostly
      market was again the largest with around a sixth of the market.
      Figures also showed that since the beginning of 2018, the UK  Portuguese women and Pakistani men.
      market had shrunk by eight percent. Germans were the next
      biggest visitors to Portugal, followed by those arriving from Spain.  uropol says in a
      Female Iberian lynx found dead in the Guadiana                   statement the men were
                                                                       seeking to obtain
      Valley Natural Park                                        Eresidence rights in the
      The female Iberian lynx Opala, which had been released 10  European Union and the women
      months ago, has been found dead in the Guadiana Valley Natural  were paid several thousand
      Park in southern Portugal. According to the conservationists,  euros to marry them.
      Opala was detected for the last time in September 2018,      After tying the knot in Portugal,
      apparently marking out a territory in the area where she has now  the couples moved to Belgium
      been found dead. Opala is the second lynx found dead so far this  where they used apparently
      year, following the death of the male Mistral who had apparently  bogus companies to obtain
      been run over.                                             welfare benefits and legal rights.
                                                                   It said an organised criminal
      Rules out on cultivation, manufacture of cannabis          group recruiting dozens of
      for medicinal use                                          women into sham marriages was
      The cultivation, manufacture and sale of cannabis for medicinal  dismantled by Belgian authorities
      purposes in Portugal may only be done following authorisation on  and the Portuguese Immigration
      the part of the country’s pharmaceutical authority, Infarmed. New  and Borders Service (SEF), with  Members of Eurojust pictured here at the operation centre at the
                                                                                              Members of Eurojust pictured here at the operation centre at the
                                                                                              Members of Eurojust pictured here at the operation centre at the
                                                                                              Members of Eurojust pictured here at the operation centre at the
                                                                                              Members of Eurojust pictured here at the operation centre at the
      legislation published today also stipulates that cannabis products  the active support of Eurojust and  Hague. (Photo: Eurojust)
                                                                                              Hague. (Photo: Eurojust)
                                                                                              Hague. (Photo: Eurojust)
                                                                                              Hague. (Photo: Eurojust)
                                                                                              Hague. (Photo: Eurojust)
      may only be sold on medical prescription, which may only be given  Europol.
      if conventional medicine fails to have the desired effects. The  Seventeen suspects were  and other benefits. The shares  culminated in today’s joint action,
      regulation also clarifies that no one may cultivate and    arrested today in Belgium and  were later transferred between  conducted simultaneously in
      manufacture cannabis-based products for their own individual  three suspects were arrested in  the wives, allowing new recruits  Leper and Brussels and in Lisbon
      therapeutic purposes.                                      Portugal in an international  to become partners of the   and Algarve, Portugal. To facilitate
                                                                 coordinated action.          companies. The women usually  direct cooperation, Belgian police
      National Guard starts nationwide operation to                The criminal group was     travelled back to Portugal, and  officers were present in Portugal
      reduce forest fire risks                                   involved in the facilitation of illegal  would occasionally return to  and Portuguese counterparts
      GNR police has started a nationwide operation known Floresta  immigration by organising sham  Belgium for police and  were present in Belgium for real-
      Segura 2019, which is directed at stepping up patrols and  marriages, predominately     immigration checks.          time information cross-checks
      surveillance of forested areas across the country. The operation  between Portuguese and  The investigation started in  and mobile telephone forensics.
      will be made up of several phases, mostly focussing on ensuring  Pakistani nationals.   Belgium in 2015 after authorities  A total of 18 house searches were
      that private individuals, companies and public and state     Portuguese women were      discovered a suspicious increase  executed in Belgium and eight in
      institutions are in compliance with rules regarding forests. While  recruited to marry Pakistani men  in the number of mixed marriage  Portugal, and dozens of forged
      the number of fires last year fell by 40 percent in relation to 2017,  they had never met. In return, the  certificates in Leper, Belgium.  documents, numerous items of IT
      the area burned was up by almost double.                   women received a cash payment  Organised criminal groups  equipment and cash were seized.
                                                                                                                           Forty-three irregular migrants of
                                                                 of thousands of euro. The couples
                                                                                              involved in this form of migrant
      Poverty risk faced by 15.1 percent of pensioners           then travelled to Belgium, where  smuggling pick small    Pakistani origin were found in
      About 15 percent of Portuguese pensioners were at risk of poverty  the wives were soon employed by  municipalities in which to commit  Belgium.
      in 2017, a value slightly above the European Union average of  (allegedly bogus) Belgian  their crimes, making the   Three coordination meetings
      14.2 percent. According to the report, with figures from 2017,  companies.              perpetrators difficult to detect and  were held at Eurojust, and the JIT,
      about one in seven pensioners in the EU was at risk of poverty, that  By purchasing shares in the  prosecute.        set up in December 2017, funded
      is, with equivalent income below the poverty line defined as 60  companies, the husbands were  Due to the international nature  by Eurojust. Coordinated
      percent of the median income per equivalent adult. The figures  permitted to stay in the European  of the crime, a joint investigation  international cooperation proved
      vary greatly by country, though, from 7 percent in France to 46  Union, obtain resident permits  team (JIT) was set up in  very useful in the dismantling of
      percent in Estonia.                                        and then illegally profit from social  December 2017, which  this organised criminal network.
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