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Spanish, French police crack 'large' smuggling network

Total of 29 arrests on operations to network involved in migrant smuggling, drug trafficking, says Europol

Fatih Hafiz Mehmet   | 17.09.2019
Spanish, French police crack 'large' smuggling network FILE PHOTO

ANKARA

Spanish and French police, with support of Europol, dismantled a "large" poly-criminal network involved in migrant smuggling, drug and human trafficking, according to Europol statement on Tuesday.

The statement said there were 29 arrests in operations against the network in the two countries.

The organized criminal group also targeted unaccompanied minors in protection centers in Spain, it added.

"They incited the minors to escape the centers and embark on dangerous journeys towards western Europe," said the statement.

The criminal group used recruiters from different countries to target migrants from their own national groups, including Algerians, Malians, Moroccans and Syrians, it said.

"The irregular migrants were transported from the Spanish port of Almería to France on buses owned by companies located in France, Morocco and Spain.

The criminal group smuggled hashish, tobacco and animals -- to be used in hunting -- through buses.

The statement added that the investigation began with the arrest of a Spanish national in France who was driving a bus with 22 irregular migrants on board, six of whom were minors, which triggered a large-scale investigation in Spain, uncovering the criminal network.

Around 67,000 irregular migrants and refugees have reached Europe so far since the beginning of 2019, according to UNHCR data.

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