By Euro Weekly News Media • 01 June 2011 • 10:14
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OFFICERS of the Guardia Civil arrested 14 people in Altea in connection with a ring of criminals organising illegal immigration. The police operation was co-ordinated by the National Court and involved approximately 40 officers from the Special Central Unit of the Guardia Civil in Madrid, in collaboration with Alicante’s Public Safety Unit.
The co-ordinated raids involved searching two houses in Altea in the Placa de Palau, and one in Altea la Olla. The suspected criminals were Iranians whose operations involved attempting to bring illegal immigrants into Spain from Iran and Afghanistan. They used forged passports and other supporting documents, which enabled the crossing of international borders, according to investigating sources. In each instance, the illegal immigrant was charged some €30,000 by the gang.
The raids were carried out simultaneously on the homes of the three Iranian families at 7.30am precisely, as is standard practice in such operations, in order to gain the element of surprise, and the officers had their faces covered with balaclavas to protect their identities for future clandestine and undercover operations. Door-breaking equipment was used to smash in all three front doors. The occupiers included children as young as six years old and couples. All the arrested persons were Iranian except for one of their wives, who was a Romanian national.
The suspects included six couples, plus four children, who were taken into custody, as well as the mother of one of the suspects.
The searches of the three properties lasted more than eight hours and it was at first assumed by locals that it was an anti-terrorist operation. Subsequently, the motive of the trafficking of illegal immigrants came to light. It was reported that computer records and documents were seized at the properties.
The Iranian families had been living in the houses for two months but officers had been told that they had been in Spain for just over three years. At the same time, one local resident described the detainees as ‘very kind and good people’.
Sources state that some 1,500 people were trafficked by the gang before it was broken up. The operation was initially detected operating out of Romania and subsequently Belgium, before it moved its base of operations to Spain. The gang had been under surveillance and several police agencies co-operated throughout Europe before the arrests were made on the Costa Blanca.
By Paul Deed
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