A police vehicle in Taranto, Italy | Photo:ARCHIVE/ANSA/UFFICIO STAMPA POLIZIA DI STATO
A police vehicle in Taranto, Italy | Photo:ARCHIVE/ANSA/UFFICIO STAMPA POLIZIA DI STATO

The Italian authorities have carried out four arrests in the city of Taranto in southern Italy as part of an operation against an alleged gang organizing fake marriages to get working papers for migrants and who also managed a prostitution ring.

The police in the city of Taranto in Italy's southeastern province of Apulia arrested four people Tuesday after discovering an alleged gang that organized fake marriages to get migrants working papers and also ran a prostitution ring.

Two men, natives of Taranto and aged 52 and 36, have been detained, while two women -- the 31-year-old wife and the mother of the 36-year-old -- have been placed under house arrest.

Two residence bans and 9 others investigated

In addition to the arrests, two residence bans have been issued for a 52-year-old Moroccan national who recruited non-EU citizens that needed working papers and a 62-year-old woman who acted as a labor consultant.

Nine others have been placed under investigation but have not been detained.

All are accused of aiding and abetting the stay of foreign citizens in Italian territory, fraudulent statements, fraud, and incitement to and exploitation of prostitution.

Inquiry began after 2017 report

The investigation began after a Moroccan national filed a report in 2017 at the Taranto police station's immigration office. The Moroccan said that, through a fellow countryman, he had entered into contact with an association led by a 36-year-old man who had said he was willing to get him working papers in Italy in exchange for money. The documents would clearly have been false, as they would have stated that the man worked at a B&B managed by one of the members of the alleged organization.

Then, once the working papers took more time than expected to arrive, he offered the possibility of a fake marriage with an Italian in exchange for €7,000 euros.

Subsequent investigations found similar incidents and young Italian and foreign women were exploited for prostitution with the involvement of the two women placed under house arrest.


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