People smuggling arrests after high-speed sea chase

SEVEN Algerians have been arrested for their part in a people smuggling network.

Four of them transported migrants to Spain, while the other three acted as ‘receivers’ for when they arrived in the country. They arranged either for the migrants to stay in Spain or organised their transfer to other EU countries.

As part of the operation four tiny boats were intercepted that were carrying a total of 79 people, including a heavily pregnant woman and a three-year-old child, in overcrowded “terrible” conditions. Their destination was the coast of Almeria.

The detained people have been charged with crimes against foreign citizens and membership of a criminal organisation.

Guardia Civil launched the operation when they became aware of a criminal group that was embarking people in Algeria onto fast boats then transporting them to the Almeria coast in exchange for large amounts of money.

Investigators discovered the leaders of the gang were based in the Algerian town of Oran, with more gang members in Alicante who ‘managed’ the migrants once they arrived in Spain.

After a surveillance operation Guardia Civil decided to intercept several boats. Sources say that the skippers of the fast launches used by the smugglers refused to heave to and led Guardia Civil on a high-speed sea chase.

They carried out evasive maneuverers with abrupt changes of direction that were, according to police, highly dangerous for their passengers.

Eventually the smugglers were caught and their passengers transferred ashore. The seven detainees have been remanded in custody.

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