Spain arrests 155 trafficked Chinese

A handout picture released on August 10, 2013 by the Spanish Police and Spain's Interior Ministry shows suspected members of a gang allegedly smuggling Chinese migrants into Europe and the United States after they were arrested by police in Barcelona. (AFP photo)

MADRID, Spain — Spanish police said Tuesday they had arrested 155 mostly Chinese nationals after busting a gang that trafficked Chinese migrants into Britain and Ireland for 20,000 euros per person.

The arrests, which included four alleged ringleaders detained in Barcelona, came after a three-year investigation, police said in a statement.

“The dismantled network was extremely hermetic, structured and hierarchical,” they said.

Officials launched the probe after Barcelona airport staff noticed a significant rise in fake identity papers used by Chinese nationals headed for Britain.

“Each victim paid 20,000 euros ($25,000) for the trip and once they’d arrived in the European Schengen zone, they would temporarily stay in flats in different parts” of the northeastern region of Catalonia “until they got their fake papers” made in China, police said.

They added that five Chinese illegal migrants had agreed to testify against the gang in exchange for entering a witness protection programme.

p: wjg