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Gang forces disabled Romanians to beg

Alex Dunham · 10 Apr 2014, 10:46

Published: 10 Apr 2014 10:46 GMT+02:00

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Three men and one woman have been arrested after one of the gang’s victims told Spain’s National Police force about her ordeal.

The disabled migrant had been forced to become a sex worker and had her papers taken away by the criminal ring, Spain’s edition of the Huffington Post reported on Thursday.

“They capture whole families and convince them they’ll have well paid agricultural jobs in Spain,” says José Nieto, inspector in chief for Spain’s human trafficking and document forgery unit (UCRIF).

“Each person gets charged between €300 and €500 for all the paperwork. They stick them on a bus and bring them to Barcelona, Madrid or the Mediterranean Coast.”

Once they’ve arrived, it dawns on them they’ve been conned out of their savings and are often forced to sleep rough in the streets.

It’s then that a ‘Good Samaritan’ turns up, offering them food and shelter in return for a service: begging or prostitution.

“Each beggar has to make between €80 and €100 a day or a ‘payment’ in the form of mobiles, handbags, wallets, sunglasses or computers which on most occasions they have to steal from bars or terraces,” Nieto adds.

Four other disabled people were freed in this latest sting operation but hundreds more disabled migrants are still being exploited on the streets of Spain’s cities.

Even though 90 human trafficking gang members have been arrested in Spain over the last three years, they tend to get round legal prosecution in the same way as the country’s pickpockets.

They have no work contract so they can’t be accused of work exploitation.

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Neither can they be found guilty of fraud as they’re only making false promises of employment to their naïve victims.

Criminal gangs continue to get off scot-free with their illicit ‘business practises’ and “all their earnings always end up in Romania”, inspector in chief José Nieto concludes.

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Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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