THE Guardia Civil has uncovered a major human trafficking ring smuggling victims from Morocco into Spain via the Costa Almeria.
The Guardia said the traffickers brought in the victims to the Almeria coastline on high-speed boats, or even jet-skis. Once they got them into Spain they were moved to Albacete and put to work, mainly as agricultural labourers.
The organisation would supply the victims with documentation which then allowed them to fraudulently claim unemployment benefit from Social Security
Operation ‘Lodares’ resulted in eight arrests and the identification of 27 victims. In raids on three properties, the Guardia also seized numerous mobile phones and documentation related to the gang’s illegal activities.
Investigations were launched at the beginning of the year on the back of information a group based in Hellin in Albacete could be part of an organisation dedicated to getting immigrants into Spain illegally. As the investigations unfolded it became clear that some of the members were related to set-ups which the authorities had already disbanded and has subsequently reorganized.
Investigators were also able to identify properties the ring used to hide victims. The Guardia reported the criminals had employed multiple security measures to avoid detection.
It was during the investigations that the Guardia Maritime Service intercepted one of the jet-skis used to transport the immigrants, managing to identify three. Thy also intercepted vehicles used to move the victims from Almeria to Hellin.
Charges brought against the detainees include violation of the rights of foreign citizens, crimes against Social Security, misappropriation of civil status and membership of a criminal organisation.