Migrant smugglers jailed in Almeria

INTERCEPTED: Coastguard vessel powers back to base after rescue operation

AN Almeria court sentenced two men to four and a half years in prison on Tuesday for organising the illegal entry of migrants into Spain from Algeria using Facebook. 

Two women and a child were among those on the boat travelling from the coast of Algeria, the Almeria courtroom heard. 

They charged each migrant €600 for the trip, according to judges. 

And the pair – known only as MAB and MZ – were convicted of acting against foreign citizens’ rights and ‘directly’ promoting the illegal immigration of people from Arzew, Algeria to Spain. 

MAB lead the recruitment of collaborators on Facebook, according to the prosecutor’s initial notes. 

He was paid for organising the boat and the equipment necessary to make it to Spain, the notes read. 

The men skippered the boat ‘using a compass’ and gave passengers instructions to follow if Spanish authorities spotted them, the court heard.

The 40-horsepower vessel departed at midnight on July 23 last year.

And the Guardia Civil’s maritime surveillance service picked up the ribbed boat at 4.15pm the next day, 62 nautical miles northeast of Cabo de Gata in Almeria.

The boat failed to meet the technical requirements for such a voyage as it was carrying more than its six or seven-person capacity. 

And it also lacked minimum security items like lifejackets ‘endangering the lives of those on board,’ the court heard. 

Police seized €345, mobile phones and a long-range laser pointer from the men upon arrest. 

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