Spanish police have arrested 11 people suspected of being part of a human trafficking cell which transports migrants across the Mediterranean Sea in small boats that are ill-equipped for crossing open water. The police said on Wednesday that the suspects had transported Moroccan adults and minors seeking access to Europe.
The traffickers forced migrants to pay €3,500 to €6,500 ($3,922 to $7,284) to attempt the crossing in a small rubber boat “without safety measures,” said the police. When the migrants arrived in Spain, officers added, they were transferred to safe houses run by the smuggling cell where they were forced to stay until another €1,000 was paid.
Once all of the payments had been made, the migrants were given clothes, a mobile phone and a bus ticket to destination in Spain or elsewhere in Europe. Spain is now the largest entry point for illegal migration into Europe.