Game over for cricket-playing sham marriage organiser

Gardaí arrested Mohammed ‘Romi’ Ramzan in his whites and deported him within days

Mohammed ‘Romi’ Ramzan (40) booked tickets for more than 100 brides to fly from Latvia and take part in sham marriages.

A cricketer playing a game in north Co Dublin got a nasty surprise as he strolled off the pitch last week when undercover gardaí moved in and arrested him in his whites.

The unusual operation by the Garda National Immigration Bureau’s Evader Track Unit took place at the Hills Cricket Club in Skerries on Wednesday evening.

Mohammed 'Romi' Ramzan was unperturbed at being arrested, apparently in the belief that he would soon be released. However, he was remanded in custody in Cloverhill Prison and was yesterday deported to Pakistan.

Ramzan (40) had been on the Garda’s radar for five years for his involvement in arranging sham marriages, or marriages of convenience as they are known.


Asian men paid up to €20,000 each to marry Eastern European women so they could secure the right to live and work in Ireland and, by extension, any part of the EU.

Mohammed ‘Romi’ Ramzan (40) booked tickets for more than 100 brides to fly from Latvia and take part in sham marriages

He not only organised the marriages in Ireland, but was also a major European facilitator for sham marriages, illegal immigration and the arranging of false documents, including EU citizen cards for those not entitled to them.

Ramzan had married a Latvian woman himself in Co Tipperary in 2009. That sham union took place just weeks after his application for asylum was rejected for the final time on appeal.

He ultimately gained Irish residency and opted to remain on in Ireland and organise sham marriages for other Asian men.

Ramzan developed criminal contacts in Riga, Latvia, who sourced the brides. They flew to Dublin for the wedding ceremonies; Ramzan personally booked more than 100 flights out of Riga for the brides.

However, five years ago when the Garda clamped down hard on sham marriages, Ramzan was one of the key ringleaders targeted under Operation Vantage.

His marriage, to a Latvian woman 11 years his junior, was determined by the Garda to be one of convenience and his residency revoked.

A deportation order was issued for him but when gardaí were unable to find him they focussed on his passion for cricket; putting the surveillance team in place and waiting until the interval to arrest him and take him away last Wednesday.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times