THE horrendous nature of people smuggling came to light with the breaking up of a criminal organisation operating in the provinces of Valencia and Albacete.
Following an operation that began in April last year, National Police moved in recently in a coordinated swoop to arrest 54 people involved in the illegal trade. Of the 54 arrested in Valencia and Benidorm, Police state that 25 are ‘ringleaders.’ The victims were mostly from the Indian sub continent, and once smuggled into Spain, were virtual prisoners to their captors and used as slave labour in the agricultural sector.
The bonds of the victims were not so much physical, but the ever present threat that if they did not adhere to the smugglers demands, their relatives back in their home countries would be executed as punishment by hired killers. Evidence of the existence of such professional assassins in Pakistan, only emerged during the Police investigation, and added a much more sinister twist to the sad trade. The victims were given the semblance of legitimacy through marriages of convenience and false documents .
The organization received differing amounts of money in return for providing their victims with false hopes of a new life in the west. For transporting an individual into Spain they were paid €8,000 ; to conclude a marriage of convenience a further €5,000 for the paperwork, and €3,000 for women who married them.
By Paul Deed