Spain police break up Moroccan migrant smuggling ring
Spanish police said Friday they have smashed a network which smuggled Moroccans into Spain, arresting seven Moroccans and freeing a man they were holding hostage.
The smugglers charged 5,000-10,000 euros ($5,700-11,400) per person to get them into Spain, usually in the northern region of Navarra on the border with France, and help them get their authorisation to live legally in the country, a statement said.
They would either transport them by ferry to mainland Spain by giving them legal documents belonging to other people with similar physical appearances or hide them in cars that crossed into Spain's North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco.
But once in Spain, the group usually did not help the migrants obtain legal status and would hold those who had not paid their full fees hostage until their family and friends came up with the money.
The police raided a house in town of Andosilla in Navarra which the ring used and freed a man who was being held.
The hostage "suffered poor hygiene and was forced to sleep on the floor on some blankets and was accompanied at all times by a person charged with supervising him," the statement said.
Police also seized two cars, including one which they suspect was used to smuggle migrants into Ceuta and Mellila from Morocco.
Ceuta and Melilla have the only land borders between Africa and the European Union. Each year thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe try to enter the two territories.
© 2015 AFP