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Spain links human trade ‘mafia’ to terror

Published on 03/12/2003

3 December 2003

MADRID – Gangsters behind the rising trade in illegal immigrants could be used by terrorists to infiltrate the European Union, warned Spain’s Interior Minister Wednesday.

Angel Acebes said there was a possibility that “the same mafias that traffic with human beings could be used by terrorists to introduce factions into the EU”.

In an interview with the Antena 3 television channel, Acebes stressed the importance of fighting mafia gangs that traffic with human beings.

He called their crimes “a new form of 21st century slavery”, adding that illegal immigration “is not only pursued for economic reasons, but possibly for terrorist purposes as well”.

Acebes went on to warn against this “profitable new trend”, in which “money is being made off people fleeing misery”.

He said the illegal immigrants who try to reach Spain from Africa not only risk their lives, but “put themselves at the mercy of these organisations” who then force them into prostitution or delinquency.

Acebes called for international collaboration to help staging countries like Morocco to manage the illegal immigration that reaches their borders.

Acebes said that in order to avoid tragedies such as the death of immigrants reaching the shores of Spain in small dinghies, it was essential to prevent them from leaving their own countries.

He was referring to Tuesday’s tragedy, in which 15 people disappeared off the coast of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands while 31 immigrants were being transferred from their dinghy onto a rescue ship.

Acebes said the tragedy happened “on a night when several ships were needed to rescue more than ninety people”.

He added that Morocco “has taken the decision to improve its strategic fight against illegal immigration” and that “we are going to joint action” to try and prevent immigrants from setting off on a “life-threatening voyage”.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news