HUGE raids carried out across Spain saw a transnational criminal organisation suspected of illegally trafficking Cuban citizens into the country via Serbia dismantled.
The enormous Policia Nacional operation led to the arrests of 21 individuals in eight searches across locations in Malaga, Tenerife, Madrid, Toledo, Ciudad Real, Alicante, Girona, and Valencia.
It is the second people smuggling ring busted this month, after another operation bringing Syrians and Algerians into Spain on speedboats was taken down.
This investigation, carried out in conjunction with police from Serbia and Greece, began when dozens of Cubans were caught at EU borders with forged documents.
In total, 62 individuals across Europe were arrested, with 25 of them using false Cuban national documentation and 37 being members of the criminal organisation.
The trafficked individuals contacted a criminal organisation that promoted its services through a popular messaging application, targeting Cuban clients in desperate situations.
The traffickers charged around €9,000 for the entire journey, including transfers and provided false documentation.
Once signed up, the Cubans embarked on a filght from Cuba to Serbia, as Serbia does not require them to obtain a visa at the border.
In Serbia, a faction of the gang provided the trafficked individuals with invitation letters, simulating legal entry and arranging accommodation near the border with North Macedonia.
From the border, they set off on arduous journeys in large groups towards Greece.
There were various differents routes were to reach Greece: from North Macedonia to Greece and then to Spain, or from Serbia through Bosnia and Herzegovina-Croatia-Slovenia-Italy-Spain.
When using the Croatia-Slovenia-Italy route, the criminal gang collaborated with other criminal groups to facilitate the crossing.
Often, the journey was made on foot, enduring 13 hours of darkness, without food and in harsh conditions. Taking advantage of the migrants’ vulnerability, especially when minors were involved, the criminals engaged in scams, robberies, and even transferred women to other criminal groups for sexual exploitation.
To enter the Schengen Area through Greece, the traffickers provided false documentation or authentic IDs, stolen or lost in police databases, that had a strong physical resemblance to the migrant.
This allowed them to board flights to Spain without detection.
The raids in Spain led to the seizure of nearly €97,000, over €100,000 in various foreign currencies from the USA, Serbia, and Russia, 450 identification documents from various countries, three vehicles, 16 mobile phones, three laptops, numerous bank cards, storage devices, and various documents.
As a result of the operation, 18 properties, 33 movable assets, and 144 bank accounts were frozen.
Six detainees remain in provisional custody.