Spanish police arrest gang suspected of link to Gib fatal migrant crossing
Spain’s Policia Nacional arrested a gang of suspected people traffickers who officers believe may have been linked to a boat that sank in the Bay of Gibraltar last February, with the loss of four lives.
In a multi-agency operation, 150 officers supported by EuroPol raided seven premises in La Linea, Algeciras and Ceuta, making 20 arrests, 13 in the Campo de Gibraltar and seven in the Spanish enclave.
“Those arrested belonged to a known gang who are believed to be responsible for the loss of the boat last February, in which four people died,” the Policia Nacional said in a statement.
The vessel was carrying seven people when it sank in the bay.
Three, including two teenagers, managed to swim to safety. But four went missing and two bodies have since been recovered from the sea, one of them identified as one of the boat’s occupants.
According to the Policia Nacional, the smugglers targeted their victims in Ceuta and the majority were young Moroccans from the Spanish enclave or nearby towns, who were offered passage across to Spain for 2,500 euros each.
In a statement, the Policia Nacional said the people smugglers would use violence and threats with firearms to ensure prompt payment.
Once the money was securely in the gang’s hands, the youths would be bundled onto boats for the dangerous night-time crossing.
All the suspects were considered to be armed and dangerous as they had posed with their weapons on social media, posting videos boasting about their gangster lifestyle.
As a result of searching the raided addresses, five firearms were seized as well as ammunition, a total of 5,500 litres of fuel in 150 containers, three launches, £1,380, 710 euros, one GPS and assorted documents.
The Royal Gibraltar Police did not participate directly in the operation but provided intelligence related to the Gibraltar link.
A spokesman for the RGP said; “This has not been a joint operation. However, we have exchanged intelligence with regard to this case.”
“We have a very fluid intelligence dialogue with our Policia Nacional counterparts, and this includes organised illegal immigration/migrant arrivals.”