The lucrative business of illegal farm workers is under the spotlight as Spanish Civil Guard officers joined a European wide crackdown on the agricultural sector.
In the peak wine harvest time of the first two weeks of September, Civil Guard officers, supported by the EU police agency Europol coordinated raids on wine estates suspected being involved in human tafficking for labour exploitation.
The international operation involved a wide range of law enforcement authorities including police, immigration and border guards, labour inspectorates and tax authorities across the EU.
The operation led to 4 arrests in Spain, as well as the identifaction of a further 4 trafickers operating in the country.
24 victims of human traficking have been rescued from Spanish wine estates.
Non-EU nationals have been identified as most vulnerable to exploitation in seasonal employments, while EU nationals are reported to be exploited in the agricultural sector year-round.
The operation targeted criminal networks and facilitators who specialise in ‘brokering’ employment on the illegal market.
Labour exploitation is a very lucrative criminal activity and is believed to be worth tens of millions of Euros.
In Spain much of the fight against illegally employed agricultural workers has been centred in Murcia and Andalucia but rarely in the more lucrative seasonal wine harvesting areas.