Forty-seven people have been arrested by the police forces of Spain and Gibraltar for alleged membership of a criminal organisation that trafficked Moroccans into Europe through Gibraltar and Spain. The investigation began in November 2018, when the Royal Gibraltar Police detected a significant increase in Moroccans from Tangiers arriving in Gibraltar with a visa for the United Kingdom, a visa which doesn’t allow entry into any country of the Schengen area, including Spain.
The criminal organisation had two branches, according to a statement by the Spanish National Police, one in Morocco and one in the region of Campo de Gibraltar. In Morocco, the traffickers planned the migrants’ trips, providing them with fake documents to obtain a visa to the UK. They were then bought a plane ticket and provided with a hotel reservation in Gibraltar as well as information on who they needed to contact to facilitate the next phase of their journey. For these services the migrants were charged between 7,000 and 8,000 euros each.
From Gibraltar, they were transported over the border into Spain at night in off-road vehicles belonging to the criminal organisation.
After crossing the border, they stayed in the home of one of the leaders of the organisation or in a hostel in La Línea de la Concepción, a Spanish city on the border with Gibraltar. The next day, they were bought a bus ticket to another Spanish province or another European country.
The organisation had a large number of employees, such as drivers, taxi drivers and staff to manage travel tickets, police said in the statement.
According to investigators, the organisation earned more than one million euros from the trafficking operation, which showed a high degree of specialisation and professionalism. The European police agency, Europol, coordinated the investigation between the Spanish police and their counterparts in Gibraltar, which resulted in the arrest of three individuals in the British territory and another 44 in various Spanish provinces.
Five vehicles, various documents and 19, 000 euros in cash were also seized during raids on properties linked to the gang.