Spain Dismantles 26-member Human Trafficking Network

Spain Dismantles 26-member Human Trafficking Network

Spanish police Monday said it has rounded up 26 people organized in a network which has been trafficking immigrants to the European country, mainly from Algeria.

The alleged traffickers used to transport the immigrants aboard powerful speedboats, which set out from the northern port of Oran and crossed the western Mediterranean in three hours, the police said in a statement, relayed by AFP.

The smugglers had also established a route between Tangiers in northern Morocco and the southern Spanish port of Algeciras.

The would be immigrants had to pay between €2,000 and €2,500 for the crossing and another €500 euros to be transported by car to cities in southern and eastern Spain “where they stayed with family and friends,” Spanish authorities said.

If they fail to make the full payment, they were dumped along the way or held hostage until their families covered the amount owed to the network. The “business” earned the network “more than €1.5 million” last year, the police said.

Spain is a key transit point and gateway for immigrants mainly from Africa willing to join Europe. Over 26,000 people arrived in Spain last year, compared to 57,498 arrivals the previous year, according to official figures.

The number has drastically dwindled by 54.5 percent thanks to Morocco, which stepped up its efforts to thwart illegal migration. The policy has forced traffickers and immigrants to find new routes, including Algeria and the Canary Islands.

Since the start of the year, illegal migrants’ arrivals in the Canary Islands have exploded.

According to statistics provided by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior, relayed by media, the arrivals of illegal migrants in the Canaries were multiplied by 17.7 in January 2020 compared to January 2019. A total of 708 migrants arrived or were rescued at sea, on board 23 boats.

The Spanish Ministry of the Interior indicates that this situation contrasts with the statistics recorded for the rest of Spain, where a drop of more than 54% for the arrivals of illegal migrants has been noted.

In percentages, and for the month of January 2020 alone, out of ten illegal migrants arriving in Spain, four opted for the Canary Islands, or 38.2% of the total.

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