Dismantled in Bizkaia a criminal organization dedicated to introducing migrants as stowaways in the United Kingdom
The Spanish Civil Guard, within the framework of the EPIRO operation, has dismantled an important criminal organization of Albanian origin that was dedicated to promoting irregular migration to the United Kingdom. The victims, some minors, traveled as stowaways on ships, paying between 3,000 and 15,000 euros to the criminal group for their displacement to the British country.
The investigations began at the end of 2019 when it became known of a criminal network dedicated to introducing migrants of Albanian nationality clandestinely into the British country since 2014.
As a result of these inquiries, the Bizkaia Command Information Group, together with the Civil Guard Information Headquarters (UCE3), the Rapid Action Group and the British NCA, have managed to arrest seven citizens and investigate another , all of them of Albanian nationality who made up this transnational criminal organization.
As a first way, they transferred irregular migrants of Albanian origin through ferries and ships to the United Kingdom departing from the ports of Bilbao and Santander. The group managed to expand its area of influence, directing its performance to other European countries through the well-known “Balkan Route”.
The criminal group was led by two “drivers” who remained in Spain for no more than three months, returning to their native country where they displayed an ostentatious standard of living incompatible with their work activity.
To avoid the risk of leaving Spain again, the arrests of these leaders of the organization had to be rushed, giving rise to a follow-up that began in Bizkaia and culminated in the arrest of both of them when they proceeded to embark last Monday for Albania at the Adolfo Suarez Airport in Madrid-Barajas.
Recruitment of the victims
The network selected the victims in their country of origin, as well as in the camps located around the port facilities, providing them with accommodation and food until they successfully hid as stowaways and arrived in the United Kingdom.
To do this, they used other Albanian citizens living in the province of Bizkaia, who supported the organization in various infrastructure tasks, necessary for stowaway operations. The concealment methods used posed a risk to the life or physical integrity of the migrant, some of them minors. The economic benefits that the organization obtained for each victim ranged between €3,000 and €15,000.
In the exploitation of the operation, three home searches have been carried out, seizing numerous telephone and computer devices, bank cards or money remittance cards. Several identity documents and passports of different nationalities that he used to hinder possible traceability in the sending and receiving of the money obtained were also seized.
The investigations are currently continuing, not ruling out new arrests.
The investigation, which has been directed by the Court of Instruction No. 3 of Barakaldo and by the Delegate Prosecutor for Immigration of the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Bizkaia, has culminated in the dismantling of the criminal organization and the arrest of its members as perpetrators of ongoing crimes. against the rights of foreign citizens in their form of illegal migration and in the context of criminal organization, with the aggravating circumstance of risk to people’s lives. During the course of the investigation, the British NCA (National Crime Agency) collaborated in the exchange of information.