Police arrested 24 people in Spain and Britain in raids on a gang that made $4.25 million in six months from trafficking Afghan migrants to Europe, the Spanish government said Wednesday.
Officers in Spain arrested 13 people and British police seized a further 11 at London Heathrow airport, the Spanish police said in a statement.
They raided various properties and seized records that showed the gang made $4.25 million by trafficking 170 people between April and September last year.
“Most of the network's members were based in Afghanistan and gathered people who wanted to emigrate to Europe, charging them $25,000 (€23,000) each and transporting them using fake travel documents,” the statement said.
24 detenidos (13 en España y 11 en Reino Unido), de una red familiar dirigida desde Madrid que traficaba afganos a Europa por 25.000 $
— Policía Nacional (@policia) May 27, 2015
Gang members are suspected of accompanying the migrants in groups of between six and 12 on flights from Islamabad in Pakistan.
From there they flew to transit points in Spain and Italy, then onward to various other European countries including Germany and Sweden.
Police investigated the network after catching a group of Afghans who were being trafficked via Bilbao airport in northern Spain.
They then tracked down the gang's leader, a Pakistani based in Madrid who had been running the network since 2012.
“He organised the logistics and reinvested the profits of the crimes in our country, using various businesses to launder the money,” the statement said.
Earlier this month Spanish police said they arrested 80 suspected gang members accused of charging Chinese migrants €20,000 each to traffick them to Britain, Ireland, Canada and the United States.