A CRIMINAL organisation that exploited victims ‘captured’ in Romania and Moldova as ‘slave’ labour has been dismantled.
A total of 145 victims have been detected in Spain. So far 18 of them of Romanian and Moldovan nationalities have been identified and released.
Sixteen people have been arrested and five others are being investigated for crimes of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation, money laundering and membership of a criminal organisation.
Among the detainees were members of the gang and businessmen from different Spanish provinces, who illegally made use of the labour.
It is estimated that the gang had at one time or another more than 600 victims under their control. They were used mainly for picking crops of olives, grapes and strawberries.
The gang lured its victims to Spain through deception and making false job offers on the Internet, which promised good working conditions.
Police say the reality was different, with the workers living in filthy and ramshackle tents and in conditions of ‘semi-slavery’, sometimes going several days with no food.
The Moldovan citizens had their original documents taken away, and were provided with passports and documents identifying them as Romanian, in order to make it look they were legally here.
Gang bosses enjoyed a high standard of living, and it was proved through the investigation that the criminal group would invoice more than €1,000,000 a month to the companies for whom the victims were working.
Police have impounded five vehicles which were used to transport the victims round Spain and Portugal.
The operation was carried out by a joint group made up of officers from the Judicial Police of Jaen and the Human Trafficking Section of the Guardia Civil with assistance from police in Huelva, Albacete, Cordoba and Badajoz.