Asian migrants paid up to €20,000 to arrive illegally in Europe by crossing the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco.
Rabat – Spain’s national police dismantled the network last week jointly with Europol, arresting 11 people and seizing more than €18,000 in Barcelona, where the organization was based, the country’s national police said in a statement on Tuesday.
Their account of the network’s operations describes a vast criminal web that spanned three continents, reaching from New Delhi to Casablanca, then to the coasts of southern Spain.
Bangladeshi citizens created the network, which attracted customers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The organization’s senior members plotted from Barcelona, where Spain’s made their arrests last week. The police did not specify the nationality or citizenship status of those detained.
Video footage of the arrests shows the authorities confronting several individuals in a cramped apartment, among piles of fraudulent documentation and suitcases. The police then go on to march others down Barcelona’s narrow streets.
The migrants paid a steep price for their journey to Europe—between €14,000 and €20,000.
First, the network fraudulently obtained the migrants’ Algerian visas from the Algerian consulate in New Delhi. The migrants then flew to Algeria, where they trekked to its border with Morocco.
The statement said that with the “cooperation of some Moroccan and Algerian border officials,” migrants crossed by night into Morocco and stayed at properties owned by the network’s members in the cities of Casablanca, Oujda, and Rabat. They lived in Morocco sometimes for months, the Spanish National Police reported, often in overcrowded housing.
Eventually, the network sent the migrants to Tangier or Nador, both cities on Morocco’s northern coasts, for the final leg of the journey. There, the network had partnered with a Moroccan group that sent migrants across the Strait of Gibraltar or the Alboran Sea by boat.
Once in Spain, the organization gave the migrants fraudulent visa documentation using counterfeit seals from Bangladeshi authorities.
Both Morocco and Spain have upped their efforts to prevent such irregular migration networks, which are common. Irregular migration in Spain dropped by more than 50% last year, which Spanish officials attributed to increased cooperation with Morocco.