A continental-wide policing effort to clamp down on the efforts of Georgian people smugglers paid dividends the past month, with the arrests of 17 individuals in Spain and France.
Procuring and supplying fake EU travel documents, as well as labour certificates, the forgeries were subsequently used by mainly criminals to attain access to the UK and Ireland.
Directed by Europol, the aim of the operation was to disrupt the long existing pattern of elements of the Georgian mafia abusing migration and asylum laws and undermining the bloc’s internal security.
Charging at a minimum €8,000 per individual, the network specialised in the production of French, Polish and Romanian IDs, which they distributed by instant messaging applications as well as postal services.
While Ireland was a major destination for Georgian criminals, the country overall has become a nerve centre in the supply of forged documents to non-EU illegals, due to our access to both the Common Travel Area and the EU.
Previous to this, the Garda National Immigration Bureau has increasingly targeted similar operations normally involving Georgian criminal enterprises providing forgery services to budding Georgian criminals trying to enter the UK and EU.
Last month bore witness to the jailing of two Georgian nationals at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for their role acting as low level ‘gofers’ in the supply of forged and stolen documents to facilitate the arrival of fellow Georgians into Ireland illegally.
Long an issue in Ireland and often assisted by means of the state’s lax and oft abused asylum system in years prior, the nation’s number one country for asylum applicants has been Georgia.
Criticised by the Georgian ambassador himself for providing an open door for criminality into Ireland and the wider EU itself, in 2020 the state made moves to curtail abuses by cynical Georgian applicants to avail of asylum services.
As perfectly illustrated with the Tory Party’s unease at Ireland’s embrace of Ukrainian refugees, our place within the Common Travel Area, as well as the EU, combined with measly border security heightens the risk to the country on matters of migration.
Similar to matters of defence the Irish State is being recognised as a weak link in the most basic matters of state.
The near decade-long problem of Georgian human traffickers abusing the asylum process will hopefully subside with the effort of European clampdowns, but loopholes will continue to appear in the area of border security.
What remains fixed is the imperative for a robust approach to migration, lest the state becomes an even greater launchpad for foreign mafias and all that entails.