A MULTINATIONAL group of drug-smugglers that used children to transport their contraband has been dismantled after the Spanish Policía Nacional, the French Police Nationale and Europol swooped.

A Europol press release states that the gang of 29 would abduct children from protection centres and send them across Europe on buses to smuggle drugs on their own.

They would target minors of various nationalities by having men from their own national group befriend them.

The men themselves would typically enter Spain via the sea port at Almeria, from Algeria, Malia, Morocco and Syria

SWOOP: Europol worked with both Spanish and French Police

Collusion with Spanish, French and Morrocan-owned bus companies meant they could smuggle hashish, tobacco and rare animals in hidden compartments.

Investigation began when a Spanish bus driver was arrested in France with 22 illegal immigrants on board, six of whom were children.

A large-scale investigation uncovered a criminal network allegedly headed by the Morrocan owner of a bus company.

HIDDEN: The gang would use hidden compartments in buses to smuggle drugs

The international operation resulted in 26 suspects being arrested in Spain, three in France, a total of 14 house searches and the seizure of €33 000 in cash, computer equipment and more than 200kg of hashish.

Europol financed the operation and provided support during the day with the deployment of two advisers in Spain and one in France

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