Spanish authorities have dismantled an organization offering false documents to migrants hoping to make it to mainland Europe. 16 Senegalese suspects were arrested.
Spanish police and officers of the civil guard have detained 16 Senegalese nationals, the majority on the Spanish owned Canary Island of Tenerife, with two more in Ibizia and one in Girona on the mainland, according to reports in the Spanish press.
The suspects have been charged with belonging to a criminal organization as well as committing crimes against foreign citizens, against property, public health, reception and the creation of fake documents, according to the English language online news portal Tenerife Weekly.
La Vanguardia released a soundless video on its You Tube channel from the Spanish Civil Guard which showed armed officers raiding various homes and investigating some of the suspects.
Ten addresses searched
During the course of the operation, ten addresses were searched and police found "more than 20 forged passports" as well as "46 files with documentation to regularize the situation of sub-Saharan citizens," reported Tenerife Weekly. In addition, police recovered "more than 900 grams of cocaine, more than 1,000 ecstasy pills, 90 grams of heroin," as well as precision scales used for measuring drugs.
Currency, including €23,600, 2,940 in fake pounds sterling, 77 telephones and 39 watches and other items of high-end jewelry were also recovered, Tenerife Weekly continued. Many of those working for the organization were allegedly migrants themselves who had arrived on the island and then been recruited by the gangs.
At least 113 people used the documents
The new recruits were then provided with fake passports or other documents which ensured they would be able to fly to the Spanish mainland or other parts of Europe. They were given instructions on "how to proceed" at the airport to get through any security checks or interrogations, according to the Tenerife Weekly. They were also issued with telephone numbers and contacts to activate on arrival.
Police allege that the gang managed to transfer at least 113 people from the Canary Islands to mainland Europe using these methods. Sometimes, some of the fake documents were re-used, Tenerife Weekly reports.
The gang is thought to have made at least €200,000 through this operation and investigations are continuing.
With EFE, RTC, Tenerife Weekly