By Humphrey Carter
A highly organised criminal operation is using Palma and Ibiza airports to fly Romanian immigrants into Britain and Ireland with false documents.
On the very day the Home Office unveiled a new scheme to stop people trafficking into Britain, the National Police in the Balearics revealed it is investigating the illegal Romanian immigrant scam which is run from Britain.

According to police sources, Romanian immigrants are paying, or agreeing to pay, the organised crime syndicate around 3.000 euros or £2000 in return for a fake European Union passport, flight to Britain and guaranteed work on arrival.

Police sources have explained that the false EU travel documents are stolen from elderly British holiday makers in Majorca. Older passports are often easier to tamper with. They are then sold to the Romanian mafia for around 300 euros.

The Bulletin first reported that Palma was being used by immigrants to get to Britain three years ago. Security forces were considering asking ground staff to photocopy travel documents belonging to any “suspicious” looking passengers in the event of them being destroyed during the flight and the passenger claiming asylum on arrival in Britain.

Now it appears that Eastern European mafias have it all organised but at a cost to the airlines. Under European aviation law, it is the airline which is held responsible for any passenger travelling on fake documents and faces being fined £2'0000.

Recently, the Spanish airport and air traffic control authority AENA, invested on installing new state-of-the art equipment at Palma airport to help the security forces detect false documents as part of the European-wide drive to increase airport security.

The issue of insufficient security and immigration at some of Britain's airports was raised in Britain last week. The National Police in Ibiza and Majorca are working closely with their British counterparts in a bid to close the mafia currently trafficking illegal Romanian immigrants down.

The British government has announced that it is going to recruit extra airline liaison officers to help identify travellers who do not have genuine travel documents before they set off for Great Britain. There are currently 27 officers in 25 posts across Europe, Asia and Africa and that number will be increased to 42 starting in April.

The Home Office is going to spend £4million on improving the airline liaison officer scheme. As well as being used to recruit extra officers, the money is also going to be used to improve computer systems used in the fight against people trafficking.

Government sources have revealed that last year, the “ALO” scheme enabled airlines to prevent over 30'000 passengers from embarking on flights bound for the United Kingdom, including more than 800 improperly documented children.

Where the British airline liaison officers are posted is a closely guarded secret. According to airport police chiefs, airlines are becoming increasingly concerned about the people trafficking situation and the assistance of an ALO might well be welcomed.

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