France, Spain Bust Alleged Human Trafficking Ring; 75 Arrested
French and Spanish authorities busted an alleged human trafficking ring, arresting 75 people in connection with the smuggling of migrants from China into Europe and the United States.
CNN reports the alleged trafficking ring was based in China, but the two individuals who investigators believe were its ringleaders operated from Barcelona, Spain.
Spanish police arrested 49 individuals carrying forged passports in airports in Barcelona, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca and five other cities. In France, 24 people were arrested.
France 24 reports the alleged traffickers charged €40,000-€50,000 ($53,000-$66,000) per person to furnish “false identities and transport Chinese citizens to the United States and countries such as Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Turkey,” according to a police statement.
Authorities say the trafficking ring also forced some the the women they smuggled to work as prostitutes.
The arrests follow a two-year international police investigation.
“The composition of this perfectly structured, hierarchical organization, with its kingpin in China and independent cells operating in different countries, completely shut off from each others, complicated the investigation,” the police statement said.
The trafficking suspects were mostly Chinese and Malaysian. They would allegedly accompany the migrants from China to Spain, which the police statement described as a “trampoline to the final destination, usually the United Kingdom or the United States.”
Once their missions were completed, the traffickers would then allegedly immediately return home “in order to make it more difficult to track them.”