AN Alicante-based people-trafficking gang has been arrested in a joint Policia Nacional-Europol operation.
The criminal crew ran a route between Spain and Algeria and also used it to export goods stolen from Costa Blanca beach goers.
22 people were detained in Alicante with two arrests in the Almeria and Jaen areas of Andalucia.
The gang transported over 250 people in 54 trips in recent months across the sea between Almeria and the Algerian port of Oran.
Seized items included over €40,000 in cash; four cars, and over three kilos of ecstasy as well as 710 packs of contraband tobacco.
Recovered stolen goods included bicycles, electric scooters and 61 mobile phones.
Most of the items had been taken from visitors to Costa Blanca beaches.
The clandestine route operated in both directions as the crew smuggled fugitives out of Spain along with migrants who had pending immigration status cases.
The ‘return’ Almeria to Oran trips also carried consignments stolen items and drugs like ecstasy with an Algerian street value that’s five-times higher than in Spain.
The criminal group worked in conjunction with organisations in Algeria to facilitate access to boats.
Once migrants landed in Almeria, they would be transferred to ‘safe houses’ in Alicante, before moving on to other Spanish countries or crossing the border into France.
Charges for a trip from Algeria to Almeria could reach up to €5,000.
The journey between Almeria and Alicante cost as much as €600 plus an additional €1,000 to get into France.
The road shuttle service included a vehicle travelling in front of those being transported to alert the gang to any possible police patrols in the vicinity.
The police operation saw nine addresses raided in Alicante and four inspections of commercial premises in the city.
- Migrants crammed into lorries operated by trafficking gang in Spain who ‘made millions’ for journeys to European Union countries
- Group of 19 immigrants rescued off Spain’s coast and taken to Granada
- People smugglers arrested in Costa Blanca and Madrid areas who charged €12,000 per person for journey to Spain