FORTY SVEN people have been arrested in a major operation against a network trafficking people between Gibraltar and Spain.
The organisation’s criminal activity affected 18 Spanish provinces and five European countries. Some 200 Spanish police officers alongside officers from Gibraltar and coordinated by EUROPOL took part in the operation.
Police say the gang kaked the documentation necessary for the migrants to obtain a visa to enter Gibraltar and then cross the border into Spain clandestinely, hidden in four-wheel drive vehicles with tinted window.
The organisation charged each Moroccan migrant between 7,000 and 8,000 euros for the visa, which increased by between 500 and 700 euros if they needed temporary accommodation in La Línea de la Concepción or transfer to another province or country
The investigation has ended with home searches, one in Línea de la Concepción and another in Gibraltar and 19,000 euros in cash, 12 smartphones, five cars and various documentation were seized.
The investigation began in November 2018, when the Royal Gibraltar Police detected a significant increase in the number of Moroccans from Tangiers arriving in Gibraltar on a UK visa. This visa does not allow entry to any country in the Schengen area, so they could not enter Spain legally.
The criminal organisation had two branches, one in Morocco and the other in the Campo de Gibraltar region (Gibraltar and la Linea de la Conception).
In Morocco, the traffickers planned the migrants’ journeys, preparing a complete file with false documentation to show the British authorities that they were eligible for a visa. Once the visa was obtained, the organisation would buy a plane ticket for the migrant, provide him with a hotel reservation in Gibraltar and tell him the steps to follow and who to contact.
From Gibraltar, they helped the trafficked person to cross the border clandestinely, for which they had all-terrain vehicles belonging to the organisation with Gibraltar plates and tinted rear windows, where they hid them and transported them to La Línea de la Concepción in Spain, always at night to make visibility difficult.
Sometimes the immigrants were housed in hostels in Gibraltar before crossing the border. Once the border was crossed, they were housed in the home of one of the organisation’s leaders or in hostels on the Línea de la Concepción. The next day, they bought a bus ticket to another Spanish province or another European country, for which they were charged between 500 and 700 euros for the transfer.
In addition, the organisation had a large number of collaborators, such as drivers, taxi drivers and staff to manage the travel tickets, so they charged another 100 and 200 euros to the migrants.
Following the investigation, the agents were able to ascertain that the profit made by the organisation based in Morocco exceeded one million euros, while the Campo de Gibraltar branch made an estimated profit of 79,800 euros.
In order to dismantle the complex criminal network, an operation was carried out in which 200 Spanish National Police officers participated together with the Royal Gibraltar Police, all coordinated through EUROPOL. Three members of the organisation have been arrested in Gibraltar after the execution of the corresponding Arrest and Surrender Orders, and another 44 members in different Spanish provinces, all for alleged membership of criminal organisations and human trafficking.