Officers from the Spanish National Police and supported by the EU´s Europol agency have dismantled an organised crime group involved in illegal immigration and drug trafficking making 24 arrests.
The investigation uncovered that the criminal network was smuggling migrants from Algeria to Spain, as well as wanted fugitives from Europe to the Middle East thereby ensuring that their boats were being used on both legs of the journey Spain and the North African coast.
The gang also branched out to other criminal activities including trafficking of synthetic drugs, property crime, tobacco smuggling and trafficking of documents.
Police officers raided a number of premises in Murcia, Alicante and Almeria and that were being used by the suspects and where a large quantity of stolen goods ( including mobile phones, electronic equipment, electric scooters, competition bikes) that were being prepared to be smuggled to Algeria was discovered.
The authrorities also seized 4 vehicles, 3.5 kg of ecstasy pills (around 6 500 pills) valued at about €152,000, 56 grams of phencyclidine, 710 boxes of smuggled tobacco, documents and about €40,000 in cash.
The investigators believe that the gang had been involved in the illegal smuggling of 250 migrants into Spain on 54 separate occasions incidents in the last few months alone.
The investigation revealed that the criminal group was very well structured, with some members solely involved in management tasks, and others in accommodation, transportation.
Hawaladars connected to the network sponsored the illegal trips of migrants but charge high rates of interest.
According to the press release issued by the Spanish Police, the leader of the gang and his wife also used their nine-year-old son as a drug courier.
Migrants were charged €5 000 for the crossing from Algeria to Almería, Spain and between €700 and €1 000 from Spain to France.
The investigation continues.