2 arrested in Spain for exploiting agricultural migrant workers in ‘semi-slavery’

Leading local businessman and recruiter from Senegal arrested for human trafficking

Alyssa Mcmurtry  | 09.11.2023 - Update : 09.11.2023
2 arrested in Spain for exploiting agricultural migrant workers in ‘semi-slavery’


Two men in Spain have been arrested for forcing 43 migrants to work in “semi-slavery” conditions on farms in the province of Zaragoza, police said on Thursday.

One of those arrested is a leading fruit and vegetable businessman in the municipality of Mallen. The other, from Senegal, is accused of recruiting migrants from his country, police said.

Most of the victims were Senegalese, recruited either in Senegal or in Spain, and were promised jobs with “normal” labor conditions, police spokesman Ruben Nido told Aragon Noticias news.

The criminal organization behind the human trafficking took advantage of their irregular status in Spain to make them work in “semi-slavery conditions."

They were forced to work 10 hours a day and seven days a week, according to the police. Without any contracts, they were forced to pay for their lunch breaks and transfers to the farms where they worked. Some were charged €150 ($160) to sleep in an overcrowded house lacking conditions of "minimum hygiene or livability."

Police said they identified 15 local businesses that benefited from the labor exploitation.

The investigation started nine months ago after a routine inspection found signs of labor exploitation. They eventually uncovered signs of trafficking, falsified documents, and crimes against Spain’s labor laws.

In the first part of the operation, 27 people were arrested, including some middlemen and higher-ups in the alleged criminal ring. However, police said the majority of those arrested were workers who were later released.

The investigation remains open, and police have not ruled out further arrests.

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