Spanish police arrest 20 members of a criminal network on suspicion of illegally transporting unaccompanied young migrants to mainland Spain. Four migrants did not survive a crossing from Ceuta.
On 7th February a small boat carrying six youths shipwrecked during the crossing near Gibraltar. Two of the youths drowned, two are missing and two survived. The two youths who survived swam to a nearby boat. One of the deceased was buried in an Islamic cemetery in Gibraltar last Saturday after a DNA test determined his identity. His parents could not afford the trip to Gibraltar and so they attended the funeral of their child via video connection.
€2,500 for the crossing per person
A total of 37 young migrants were brought to the mainland between September 2020 and last March. In return, they paid the criminals, who call themselves Campos Gallego, €2,500 per person. The youths were held in a prison until they paid off their debt. If they still wanted to break the agreement, they were physically abused, sometimes to the point where medical attention was necessary.
Unaccompanied minor migrants
Two of the four victims who died on February 7 are Jawad, 25, and Hamid, 29, from Fnideq, Morocco. They reached the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by swimming after the Tarajal border crossing closed due to the corona pandemic. Hamid had fled “unbearable” social and economic situations in his country. He wanted to reach the Spanish mainland via Ceuta, his mother told the newspaper El Foro de Ceuta. She received his last message on February 6th, when he said he would make the crossing a day later. Jawad and Hamid were of age, but most of Campos Gallego’s “clients” were underage Moroccan migrants travelling alone.
Thirteen of the 20 violent gang members were arrested by the Spanish National Police in the province of Cádiz; the remaining seven were arrested in Ceuta. The police investigation, in which the Gibraltese authorities also cooperated, started two weeks ago. In addition to the arrests, the police seized five firearms, three boats and 5,500 litres of fuel.
Seven of the arrested gang members are in prison. All 20 criminals arrested are under investigation for suspected crimes against foreign citizens, causing death through reckless behavior and participating in a criminal organisation.