MADRID: Spanish police said Monday they have smashed an alleged people trafficking network which “operated like a travel agency” and smuggled around 600 Moroccans into Spain by sea this year.
The ring recruited its “customers” mainly in the northern Moroccan city of Larache, charging “at least” 2,500 euros ($2,825) per person for the dangerous crossing, police said in a statement.
“The organization operated like a sort of travel agency” which took the migrants to Spain, picked them up from the coast and then transported them by car to “safe houses.”
From there, they took them to their desired destination in the country, usually in Catalonia or the northern Basque Country, the statement added.
Police arrested seven suspected leaders of the ring, including its Moroccan-based chief, who was charged with recruiting migrants as part of the operation.
The network smuggled around 600 migrants into Spain this year, earning at least 1.5 million euros, the statement added.
Spain has seen growing numbers of migrants after Italy began to stem the flow of sea arrivals from Libya last year.
The International Organization for Migration says that more than 55,000 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea this year, and that at least 743 have died or gone missing trying, making it the main entry point for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.