1 Dec, 2023 @ 11:34
2 mins read

‘Migrant taxis’: How illegal immigrants pay drug lords up to €5,000 each to be ferried from Africa to Spain ‘in 20 minutes’

Illegal immigrants await their evacuation from their broken boat on May 29, 2021 in the District of Marine National Guard of the Center, Sfax, Tunisia. Tunisia has become a central location for migrants to try to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Over the last few months the Tunisian Coastguard has stopped hundreds of illegal migrants from different african countries. They want to leave their country because of the lack of job opportunities especially after the COVID-19 crisis. The journey is very dangerous and in recent weeks, drowning incidents have occurred off the Tunisian coast, with an increase in the frequency of trips to Europe from Tunisia and Libya towards Italy as the weather has improved.   According to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR around 23,500 people have made it across the sea to Europe this year, with most new arrivals landing in Italy and Spain from Tunisia and Algeria. The agency estimates that 633 people have died or gone missing in transit this year.  (Photo by Mohamed Krit/ Sipa USA) *** Local Caption *** 33590203

DRUG traffickers are believed to be turning their ‘narco boats’ into ‘migrant taxis’, promising a ride to Spain in just 20 minutes. 

It comes after the bodies of four Moroccan migrants were recovered from the coast of Cadiz alongside 31 others. 

It is believed the 35 migrants were forced to jump into the sea at gun and knifepoint by four traffickers. 

The incident occurred this Wednesday, November 29 when the first 27 migrants were thrust into the sea off the coast of Playa de Camposoto. 

Then, another eight were forced to jump into the dangerous waves near Sancti Petri. 

Three of this group were saved from drowning and taken to Puerto Real Hospital, Cadiz, where two remain in a stable condition. 

According to the survivors, the traffickers were a Spanish man and woman alongside two Moroccan men.

Francisco Mena, President of the Alternative Antidrug Coordination in the Campo de Gibraltar said: “They are unscrupulous people and, when they are unscrupulous, it doesn’t matter if what they have to throw overboard are bundles of hashish or people.”

The Antidrug group has been investigating the traffickers, who offer ‘express’ services to Spain for between €3,000 and €5,000, for months. 

It is believed the traffickers are based in Morocco and use a type of boat previously banned by the Spanish government’s 2018 ‘Plan Especial’ to curb drug trafficking in the area. 

The boats can have up to four motors and travel at 110km/hr. 

The practice reportedly started a few years ago, when five or six Moroccans would travel alongside a shipment of 400-500 kilos of hashish, helping to load the drugs into vehicles in Spain as a form of payment. 

Since then, trafficking has grown and now boats carry as much as 3,000kg of the drug. 

Political pressure has forced drug traffickers to move further along the coast to Huelva, Malaga, the Guadalquivir river and Almeria, where the use of ‘migrant taxis’ is a particular problem. 

According to the Guardia Civil, traffickers organise several boats at once to overwhelm authorities and evade detection. 

Transporting as many as 20 people in each boat, the journeys require much gasoline so supplies are often brought to traffickers mid journey. 

Although transporting many people, the boats are still full of illicit drugs such as hashish, which has over 30 million users in the EU and mainly comes from Morocco. 

It is also believed the boats could be transporting cocaine brought from the Americas via Africa. 

“It’s just a matter of money. Once they have the money, they’ll bring whatever they can.” says Francisco Mena, highlighting the origins of the illegal tobacco trade off the Gibralatar coast. 


Yzabelle Bostyn

After spending much of her childhood in Andalucia and adulthood between Barcelona and Latin America, Yzabelle has settled in the Costa del Sol to put her NCTJ & Journalism Masters to good use. She is particularly interested in travel, vegan food and has been leading the Olive Press Nolotil campaign. Have a story? email yzabelle@theolivepress.es

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