Spanish police bust Vietnamese human trafficking ring that smuggled in 730 people

Several dozen suspects were arrested as police took down a criminal network worth millions that had smuggled at least 730 Vietnamese citizens into Spain.

Spanish police bust Vietnamese human trafficking ring that smuggled in 730 people
File photo: Pau Barrena/AFP.

Spanish police arrested 37 suspects across Spain accused of human trafficking. The criminal network was based in Barcelona and had smuggled in 730 Vietnamese citizens to Spain. The network charged €18,000 per person and then forced the trafficked victims to work in manicure centres upon arrival. 

Among those arrested was a public official in the region of Huelva, who falsified work permits and residency documents. 

The criminal organization filed asylum cases under the 'Provisions concerning protection measures for unaccompanied minors' directive, an E-wide law by which non-EU unaccompanied can claim asylum. The organization smuggled in people through airports in Madrid and Barcelona by filing fraudulent claims. 

The Vietnamese citizens who were smuggled first travelled to various destinations in Latin America before pretending to transit through the Spanish airports. Once in Spain, they claimed asylum.

Spanish agents began investigating the network last year when the number of applications for asylum for unaccompanied minors from Madrid and Barcelona suddenly increased.

The organization made €13 million from the illicit activity since the beginning of 2018 alone. The Vietnamese citizens paid €18,000 each to reach Spain, according to a report by Spanish police (in Spanish). Some paid in cash, others paid with land or assets in Vietnam or with deferred debt which they then paid back working in Spain. 

More than 100 Vietnamese beauty salons were inspected across Spain as part of the operation. Spanish police conducted their investigations in Sevilla, Granada, Murcia, Almería, Cádiz, Málaga, Madrid, Valencia, San Sebastián, Girona, Lérida, Tarragona, León, Huelva, Córdoba and Barcelona. Thousands of euros in cash, vehicles and assets were confiscated following raids in several locations.

Many of the people smuggled were forced to work 12-hour shifts in manicure centres, were made to live in squalid conditions and were denied freedom of movement – ferried to and from work under the supervision of the traffickers. 

READ MORE: Brazen drug trafficking alarms southern Spain






Spain arrests 11 suspected jihadists in Melilla and Granada

Moroccan and Spanish police have dismantled a jihadist cell suspected of links to the Islamic State group, officials said Tuesday.

Spain arrests 11 suspected jihadists in Melilla and Granada

The operation led to the arrest of 11 people in raids on Tuesday morning: nine in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Morocco’s northern coast, and another two in the nearby town of Nador, according to a Moroccan police statement.

Spanish security sources said 10 people had been arrested in Melilla and another in the southern Spanish city of Granada.

The Moroccan police said the two suspects held in Nador, aged 34 and 39, were remanded in custody and that mobile phones and a computer had been seized.

The detainees were suspected of “promoting extremist ideology” online “in order to recruit people in terrorist organisations”, the same source said.

Morocco and Spain officially revived their security cooperation in April after mending fences following a year-long diplomatic row over the Western Sahara.

The Moroccan police regularly announce operations against jihadist cells, and reports having arrested more than 3,500 people in relation to “terrorism” since 2002.