• France's news in English
 

Arrests made in France after trafficking bust

Published: 10 Aug 2013 14:13 GMT+02:00

French and Spanish police said Saturday they have dismantled a human trafficking ring that smuggled Chinese migrants into Europe and the United States, charging up to 50,000 euros per person.

A total of 75 suspects including two "main operatives" based in Barcelona were arrested, including 51 in Spain and 24 in France after a two-year joint investigation, a police statement said.

The traffickers charged 40,000 to 50,000 euros ($53,000 to $66,000) per person to provide "false identities and transport Chinese citizens to the United States and countries such as Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Turkey," the statement said.

In some cases the ring was involved in the sexual exploitation of migrants, it added.

Spanish police seized 81 fake passports from Asian countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The investigation into the ring, described as "complex", began in July 2011.

"The composition of this perfectly structured, hierarchical organisation, with its kingpin in China and independent cells operating in different countries, completely shut off from each other, complicated the investigation," the police statement said.

The traffickers accompanied their clients all the way from China to Spain, "the last stop (serving as a) trampoline to the final destination, usually the United Kingdom or the United States," it said.

The operatives, mainly from China and Malaysia, had the "complete confidence" of the ringleaders and were "thorough connaisseurs of the European airports and cities along the route of the transfers," the statement said.

Once their mission was accomplished they would return home immediately, "in order to make it more difficult to track them," police said.

Upon the migrants' arrival in Barcelona, operatives of the trafficking ring would meet them and take them to safe houses before they embarked on the next leg of their journey.

The route taken from China, as well as the travel documents used, "changed constantly according to the successes and failures of previous trips... or in order to prevent discovery of the traffickers," the statement said.

The migrants were given precise instructions on how to avoid detection at customs controls, for example by mixing in with a group of tourists.

The two top officials were arrested in Barcelona, while another 49 suspects were picked up in Spanish airports including those of Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga and Mallorca, plus another 24 in France.

The 81 fake passports were found in two lodgings owned by the ring in Barcelona.

There police also found equipment for forging documents including portable computers, scanners, around 20 fake customs stamps and an electronic magnifier.

Police also provided pictures of a firearm, cellphones and wads of cash, both euros and yuan, that were seized in the operation.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sleeping woman raped on Paris train
A woman on an RER platform. Photo: Fabiana/Flickr

Sleeping woman raped on Paris train

A young woman was raped by two men on Sunday morning after she fell asleep while riding an RER commuter train near Paris. A recent study reports that half of French people feel unsafe when using public transport. READ  

Euro 2016
Euro 2016 in France 'faces real terror threat'
The Euro 2016 football tournament in France faces a real threat of terrorism, organisers say. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Euro 2016 in France 'faces real terror threat'

The threat of a terror attack at next year's Euro 2016 football championships in France is now a reality in the light of the shootings in Paris earlier this month, organizers admitted on Tuesday. READ  

'Midriff the new cleavage' at Paris fashion show
British model Alice Dellal poses prior to attending Chanel 2015 Haute Couture at the Grand Palais in Paris. Photo: AFP

'Midriff the new cleavage' at Paris fashion show

Chanel's haute couture view of the coming spring-summer season, revealed on Tuesday, is distinctly storybook -- but with midriff-baring outfits proudly declaring that "the stomach is the new cleavage". READ  

Readers' views
How French motorists drive expats crazy
What France really needs to do to crack down on rogue drivers. Photo: Brett Jordan/Flickr

How French motorists drive expats crazy

After the French government announced a raft of measures aimed at improving road safety, The Local's readers got in touch to share their own ideas for how France should crack down on its rogue motorists (and some British ones). READ  

France told to repay €1 billion in EU farm aid
French livestock farmers protest in Paris at rising costs which have left many of them struggling to survive. Photo: AFP

France told to repay €1 billion in EU farm aid

France must repay the EU €1.07 billion ($1.2 billion) in agricultural aid paid to farmers due to fraud and mistakes over a four-year period, the European Commission said on Tuesday. READ  

France defends jail terms for pro-terror tweeters
Returning French jihadists and those who glorified the terror attacks are swelling record prisoner numbers in France. Photo: AFP

France defends jail terms for pro-terror tweeters

France’s justice minister said on Tuesday the country's culture demanded punishment, not 'de-radicalization', for returning jihadists, and denied French courts had trampled on freedom of speech in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks. READ  

French film industry to honour Sean Penn
Sean Penn and Charlize Theron. The couple has been romantically linked since June, 2014. Photo: AFP

French film industry to honour Sean Penn

US actor Sean Penn is to win an honorary French film award in Paris next month, with officials recognizing him for being a "living legend" of cinema. READ  

Hollande to French Jews: 'France is your home'
French President Francois Hollande lays a wreath at the Holocaust memorial in Paris. Photo: AFP

Hollande to French Jews: 'France is your home'

French president François Hollande told the nation's Jewish community on Tuesday that France is their "homeland", as he announced a set of plans to fight racism and anti-Semitism in France. READ  

Nine French dead after fighter jet crashes
Smoke rises from the Spanish air base after the crash. Photo: AFP

Nine French dead after fighter jet crashes

UPDATED: The death of a ninth French national was confirmed late on Tuesday morning, as the the death toll rises to eleven after a Greek fighter jet crashed at a military base in Spain on Monday. READ  

BREAKING
At least five held in 'anti-jihadist' raid in France
This file photo shows French police carrying out an counter-terrorist raid on a property. Photo: AFP

At least five held in 'anti-jihadist' raid in France

UPDATED: At least five people have been arrested after an anti-jihadist operation in southern France, which is still ongoing. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se