Gang smuggled asylum seekers into UK through Spain

Gang smuggled asylum seekers into UK through Spain
Tenerife Sur airport, where police first found signs of a group smuggling immigrants to the UK. Photo: Desiree Martin/AFP.
Spain's National Police have arrested a group involved in a network that helped people enter the UK illegally through Spain in order to apply for asylum.

Police reported on Wednesday that they had arrested 15 people connected to a criminal organization that brought immigrants into the UK by going through airports in Spain's Canary Islands.

The report said that in December, an Iranian man had been arrested at Tenerife's airport while trying to fly to London with a fake passport and ID card.

This case led police to discover that a criminal organization had been helping Iranian and Albanian immigrants illegally enter the UK, and in particular London, through the Canary Islands in order to later apply for political asylum.

According to police, the gang demanded that immigrants pay large quantities of money to get to their final destinations, normally during high tourist seasons.

Once in the UK, the immigrants would apply for political asylum.

The group acted as “facilitators” for the immigrants, saying they were from Iran and guiding small groups of two or three people at a time. They would accompany the travelers to border control and would offer to act as translators if they ran into trouble with authorities.

The 15 suspects were arrested at the Gran Canaria and Tenerife Sur airports, two of whom for being members of the criminal organization.

Police seized a number of documents from the group, including fake Polish and Bulgarian passports, a stolen Israeli passport, Italian ID cards, two authentic Bulgarian passports and two other stolen British passports.

The investigation remains open and is being conducted in collaboration with UK police.