A JOINT operation between Spanish and French police in collaboration with the Joint Investigation Team of Niger, has broken up a people smuggling gang.
Led by Spain’s National Police the investigation dismantled an organisation that had facilitated the migration to Spain of thousands of Sub-Saharans from and through Niger, Libya, Algeria and Morocco.
Two people were arrested during the operation. One is considered one of the most important migrant smugglers of recent years. An analysis of the organisation’s bank accounts showed that its annual earnings were around €250,000.
Investigations began in 2017, after police learned of the existence of a shadowy person in the city of Agadez (Niger) who appeared to have great power among migrant smugglers.
Initially only his nickname was known and that he was the one who decided who, when and where the caravans of pick-up vehicles used to cross the desert and transport migrants were organised.
These routes are highly dangerous, with many migrants known to have died in sandstorms, or been stranded in the desert following breakdowns. Others have been intentionally abandoned.
Following the prosecution of several migrant smuggling cases, particularly in the Zinder and Agadez regions, two of the main traffickers were arrested. One of them had been arrested on another occasion on charges of participating in a caravan of migrants whom they abandoned in the desert.
Such was the high hierarchical position of the detainees in the management of caravans of migrants, no vehicle transporting them could leave Agadez without their say so.