Secret police raids arrest 30 human traffickers in Tenerife and Gran Canaria
The National Police have so far detained a total of around 30 people as part of a secret police operation, which is being termed as a macro-operation, against human trafficking and irregular migration, linked to the arrival of boats travelling from the west coast of Africa to the Canary Islands, according to sources close to the investigation.
A large deployment of heavily armed police wearing balaclavas and bullet proof vests carrying automatic weapons, assisted by Europol, since Friday, have led to coordinated raids across the south of Gran Canaria, in particular the municipality of Mogán, and also on the island of Tenerife.
A large number of arrests have been made, many of the detainees are foreign residents who had lived here long enough to have already gained Spanish nationality, and among them a mixture of origins including Italians and Moroccans. The operation continues, and more raids and arrests have not been ruled out this week.
The National Police accuse those detained of having committed a range of crimes, related to the illegal trafficking of people, the organising of communications and travel in open boats, known as pateras and cayucos from various points along the coast of West Africa, to enable their irregular entry into the Archipelago, and thereby Spanish territories and Europe. In addition to the alleged trafficking in women, falsification of documents and providing migrants with fake passports with which to leave the Islands.
This still secret police operation against the traffickers began on Friday morning, with raids on several different tourist establishments and apartments throughout the south of Gran Canaria. Directed by the General Police Department for Immigration and Borders, agents were sent from Madrid, to act with the collaboration of the Maspalomas National Police Station and the Canary Islands Primary Police Command.
Different teams of agents simultaneously arrived in Mogán to serve warrants and carry out searches in establishments including hairdressers and beauty parlours, travel agencies and holiday homes, all in Arguineguín, Playa del Cura, Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria and Motor Grande.
The first signs of the operation being underway were at a hairdressers on Calle Alcalde Paco González in Arguineguín, and then continued at another in the Puerto Rico Commercial Centre, both establishments owned by the same person. Investigators also inspected the offices of a travel agency and raided tourism apartments in Motor Grande, the upper area of Puerto Rico, and in Playa del Cura.
The raided premises, however, where not sealed off, and on Saturday life in the usually popular tourist resort towns returned pretty much to normal, with the exception of these shops and salons all being closed. The ongoing police investigation is currently under summary order of secrecy and so few details have yet emerged about the detainees, the charges made against them, who else could be involved, nor their specific modus operandi.
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This is not the first operation that the National Police have carried out on the Islands. Last year several illegal organisations, directly involved in human trafficking, were dismantled in Lanzarote, in a year in which an increase of tens of thousands of people have arrived in the Canary Islands.
So far this year, a total of 6,122 migrants have entered Spain by sea up until March 31st, 3,436 of them arriving on the coasts of the Canary Islands, which is to say more than double the numbers that had arrived by this time last year, according to the bi-weekly report published by the Ministry of the Interior.