In an operation involving Spain's National Police and the British Border Police, 24 people have been arrested, 13 in Spain and 11 in the UK, mostly from the same family, in a human trafficking network originating in Madrid
Those arrested were allegedly smuggling Afghan nationals, into several European countries, in exchange for 25,000 euros
By using falsified travel documents and accompanied by a "facilitator" the refugees would take a flight from Islamabad (Pakistan), transiting through Spain or Italy, before being transferred from there to other European states.
The investigations began when six illegal Afghans were discovered in Bilbao Airport as traffickers attempted to smuggle them into the country. National Police Agents soon realized they were closing in on a criminal network that was based in Spain, with a leader of Pakistani origin, who was coordinating activities throughout Europe from Madrid.
He allegedly managed the gang's logistics, and reinvested the proceeds of his activities in Spanish businesses in order to launder the money illegally obtained.
After recruiting Afghans who each paid 25,000 euros to the operation a facilitator would move groups of between 6 and 12 refugees from Pakistan into Spain or Italy. He would be responsible for handling all travel logistics including airline tickets, fake passports, hotels and any other issues that might arise.
From there the victims would be issued with false documentation with which they would be moved on to their final European destination.
As the investigation progressed, police found that, quite often, the organization used to London Heathrow as airport transit prior to their arrival in Spain, so contact was made with the British Border Police, who proceeded to arrest of 11 people, a Pakistani and 10 Afghans traveling with false passports.
The arrests saw an immediate change of routing by the network which had to immediately reorganize its travel system in order to avoid Heathrow, opting for direct travel from Islamabad to Barcelona.
With this information, the National Police began to identify and locate other members of the organization resulting in the arrest of 13 people, including the leader of the group.
A number of homes and commercial establishments were raided in which 18 forged British and Spanish passports were found, 20 Pakistani passports, fake UK visas, passport pages with exit stamps, computers and mobile phone were seized along with bank documents and cash.
A search was also carried out in a Logrono travel agency, where officers found numerous documents which revealed the existence of more than 170 trafficked trips between April and September 2014 amounting to US $ 4,250,000.Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/47456/
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