Spanish police have arrested 38 people suspected of organizing fraudulent marriages in Spain as a way of legalizing the immigration status of Dominican women working as prostitutes in the northeastern region of Catalonia.
The operation is still in progress, so that further arrests are not ruled out, police officials said.
The investigation began in September 2010 after payments were discovered of up to 3,500 euros ($4,579) made to Spaniards for their agreement to marry undocumented foreigners.
Over the past two years police have documented 29 weddings arranged by the fraud ring in four Catholic churches in the city of Sabadell.
Investigations revealed that some of the men involved in the marriages were already wed to other women and that in other marriages the bride and groom were blood relatives.
Investigators discovered, in fact, that there were brothers and sisters and witnesses who interchanged their roles in different weddings.
According to police, most Spaniards who accepted the marriage of convenience or acted as a witness in return for money were either very poor, drug addicts or compulsive gamblers.