The arrests, which included four alleged ringleaders detained in Barcelona, came after a three-year investigation, police said in a statement.
“The dismantled network was extremely hermetic, structured and hierarchical,” they said.
Officials launched the probe after Barcelona airport staff noticed a significant rise in fake identity papers used by Chinese nationals headed for Britain.
“Each victim paid 20,000 euros (USD 25,000) for the trip and once they’d arrived in the European Schengen zone, they would temporarily stay in flats in different parts” of the northeastern region of Catalonia “until they got their fake papers” made in China, police said.
155 detenidos que traficaban con ciudadanos chinos a quienes cobraban una “tarifa plana” de 20.000€ por pasaportes falsos y el cruce de fronteras. Los cuatro cabecillas de la red han sido detenidos en #Barcelona https://t.co/dvMcfpdtXs pic.twitter.com/fGA8FZDcZl
— Policía Nacional (@policia) March 13, 2018
They added that five Chinese illegal migrants had agreed to testify against the gang in exchange for entering a witness protection programme.
Police photo showing English phrases migrants trafficked by the syndicate would learn before reaching the UK.