A HUGE people trafficking gang that smuggled Syrian and Algerian migrants into Spain on speed boats via Libya has been dismantled in a major international operation.
The network had cells operating in Sudan, Liberia, and Almería, and was also engaged in drug trafficking, arms smuggling, and money laundering since as far back as 2017.
Spanish Policia Nacional led the way in demolishing the dangerous transnational criminal organisation with the assistance of German and Norwegian authorities.
Although some migrants remained in Spain, the final destination countries for the majority of those who managed to reach Spanish shores were France, Belgium, Germany and Norway.
They were clandestinely brought into Spain from Algeria aboard nippy and agile skiffs piloted by armed gangsters.
Police investigations have confirmed at least 13 trafficking operations, which facilitated the illegal entry of over 200 migrants.
The cost of the perilous journey ranged from €7,000 to €20,000 per person depending on the level of services rendered.
This operation, classified by Europol as a ‘highly significant anti-trafficking effort within Europe’, culminated in the arrest of 15 individuals.
Nine were caught in Almería, six in Roquetas de Mar (Almería), and one in Málaga. Of those detained, 13 have been remanded in provisional custody.
The organisation operated under the direction of two main nerve centres, one in Libya and the other in Spain.
From Libya, the group recruited Syrian citizens, arranging their transportation through Sudan or Lebanon, while providing the necessary travel documentation (visas, exit permits, etc.).
Once in Libya, the migrants stayed in secure apartments until they were transferred to Algeria.
From there, they waited in controlled properties until their departure to the Iberian Peninsula.
Meanwhile, the Spanish branch of the network specialised in transporting migrants via high-speed boats from Algeria, facilitating their accommodation in Spain and subsequent onward journeys.
Through agreements with Algerian smugglers, the boats also transported Algerian migrants seeking entry into Spain.
For those who sought it, the gang offered a VIP service, enabling migrants to disembark at a different coastal location from the rest.
They would then be extracted in high-end vehicles, with robust security measures in place.
The organisation implemented significant security measures and counter-surveillance techniques to ensure the success of their operations.
They deployed beach surveillance systems to detect police presence, organised patrol teams, utilised high-powered vehicles for extractions, and employed video surveillance at hidden properties to conceal the boats.
Thirteen residences were searched across both provinces, resulting in the seizure of €522,710 and $1,200 in cash, a handgun, two high-speed boats, two outboard motors, 575 litres of gasoline, seven vehicles, 200 grams of hashish, 42 mobile phones (including two satellite phones), two computers, one tablet, and various documents.
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