An organized crime group from Morocco used jet skis to smuggle migrants and cannabis across the Mediterranean Sea to Spain. The group was dismantled this week in a joint action day by the Spanish National Police and the Civil Guard.
They arrested and detained a total of 19 people of Moroccan origin. Police officers carried out 7 houses searches in Almeria, Spain, where they seized 11.6 kilograms of drugs and over €15,000 euros in cash. Digital devices were examined and 16 gigabytes of data submitted to the Spanish law enforcement agencies by Europol.
The organized crime group was made up of Moroccan citizens who were residing in various European countries, mainly France, Italy and Spain. They contacted and sheltered migrants who had been smuggled with falsified documents from the Spanish autonomous city of Ceuta, located on the north coast of Africa, to mainland Spain, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar which separates Europe and Africa by only 14.3 kilometers.
The criminals charged the migrants €4,000 and an additional €500 if they wanted to be housed in Spain. Once trafficked to the Spanish mainland, the next leg of the trip sent them to their relatives in France, Italy and Spain.
The criminal organization used the same modus operandi for trafficking drugs, specifically cannabis, from Morocco to Spain. According to an intelligence report issued by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), smuggling migrants on jet skis is a modus operandi specific to the Strait of Gibraltar and used exclusively by Moroccans.
Young Moroccan males mainly use this mode of transport to reach the Spanish coast, most of them with relatives in the European Union, who pay for their transfer. Although in terms of migratory impact the number of migrants being transferred with this type of asset is relatively low (1-3 migrants, plus one skipper per jet ski), the number of incidents involving jet skis has sharply increased in the past few years.
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