Spanish police have broken up a human trafficking gang that brought seasonal workers from Romania and Bulgaria to Spain where they were forced to on fruit farms in slave-like conditions.
Five people were arrested and 61 migrant workers released in police operations in the Spanish provinces of Castellón, Valencia and Lleida.
The five detainees are accused of belonging to a criminal organisation and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation. The gang’s alleged leaders, a married Romanian couple, were among those arrested.
The Spanish Civil Guard estimates that the organisation was responsible for trafficking about 1000 workers to Spain over the course of nine years, having been attracted by false promises of high pay and free accommodation during the harvesting season.
However, once they had arrived in Spain, they had to pay a fee to the organisation to pay for their documents, transport and rent.
Up to 25 workers were forced to live together in one three-bedroom house, which they were forbidden to leave except to go to the citrus farms where they worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week.
They were told to open bank accounts using the address of the couple that led the organisation, who then kept the bank cards associated with the accounts allowing them to withdraw money “at will” from their bank accounts, the Civil Guard said.
The Spanish Civil Guard estimates that the organisation was responsible for trafficking about 1000 workers to Spain over the course of nine years.