Spanish police dismantle two migrant smuggling networks in France

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Spanish police announced on Friday that they had dismantled two human trafficking networks that would have facilitated the passage to France of hundreds of irregular immigrants.The two smuggling networks operated from Bilbao and Vitoria, two towns in the northwest of the Basque Country.

Fifteen people were arrested, including three in the Spanish capital, Madrid, and one in Lleida, a town in the northeastern province of Catalonia.

“The migrants arrived by boat at different places on the Spanish coast, where they were referred to different NGOs,” police said in a statement.

“It is there, or even before their departure from Morocco, that the networks seduced them with the promise to transfer them from Spain to France for a price of around 200 €”, he added.

One of the networks used cars to cross the border and bring migrants to the French town of Bayonne. The other smuggling network provided them with bus tickets to Bayonne and asked them to travel only at specific time slots.

In both cases, migrants then went to a local NGO or reception center until they received further instructions for their journey to their final destination in France or to another European destination.

The police estimate that “several hundred irregular immigrants crossed the border between Spain and France thanks to the support of these networks” which drew “great benefits”.

The investigation was opened after the arrest of a man in Navarre, a neighboring province of the Basque Country, who had been arrested several times smuggling people into France. They then discovered the two smuggling networks, which sometimes cooperated with each other.

During the arrests, the agents also recovered € 3,000, a vehicle, 24 cell phones and computer equipment.

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