A human trafficking ring that smuggled Chinese citizens into Europe and the United States has been dismantled, leading to dozens of arrests in Spain and France, authorities say.
Spain’s Interior Ministry said a total of 75 people accused of being involved in the China-based trafficking ring were arrested in June. Among those held were two suspected leaders of the gang who lived in Barcelona.
The suspects, who were mainly Chinese and Malaysian nationals, included those who allegedly formed part of the smuggling ring and those who paid for the forged documents.
Police also seized 81 fake passports from Asian countries such as Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The traffickers allegedly charged up to 50,000 euros ($66,000) to transport Chinese nationals to the US, Britain, Spain, France, Greece, Italy and Turkey.
The smuggling ring reportedly used Barcelona airport as a main ‘hub’ where victims would await their false documents before being sent to the US or the UK.
Some of the migrants were forced into sexual exploitation, the ministry said.
Spanish and French authorities on Saturday revealed the report after a two-year joint investigation.
Investigators said the trafficking ring was “perfectly structured” and organized into independent, isolated cells operating in different countries to avoid detection.
The traffickers would take their victims themselves all the way from China to Spain. Once their mission was accomplished, the smugglers would immediately return home, the report said.
by Maesie Bertumen