Spain's Interior Ministry Says 566 People Detained in Operation to Fight Migration Trafficking
© AFP 2023 SAMEER AL-DOUMYMigrants are surrounded by French National Police wait to be evacuated to reception centers during a sheltering operation by the local prefecture in Loon-Plage, northern France on November 30, 2023.
© AFP 2023 SAMEER AL-DOUMY
Around 60,000 undocumented migrants have died over the past decade worldwide when trying to illegally make their way to foreign countries and using the services of smugglers for this purpose while the criminals get up to $6.6 billion per year for their "work", European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson reported on Tuesday.
The Spanish Interior Ministry said on Thursday that 556 people have been detained in a Madrid-led operation involving agents from 26 European countries to combat arms, drugs and human trafficking.
"In November, Spain led a European operation to combat trafficking in arms, drugs, migrants and human beings that resulted in the detention of 566 people and the launch of 163 new investigations," the ministry said in a statement on the website.
Out of the 566 people, 218 have been detained for the illegal transfer of migrants, 186 for drug trafficking, 69 for the illegal trafficking of firearms, and 89 for other crimes, the statement said. During the operation, law enforcement agents have checked as many as 215,000 people and seized 310 firearms and almost a tonne of drugs, including 626 kilograms (1,380 pounds) of cocaine, the ministry said.
Over 22,000 police officers from 26 countries, including non-EU countries, namely Albania, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine, participated in the operation, which took place from November 13-18 with the support of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and in cooperation with European and international agencies, the statement said.
At the same time, the situation with migration trafficking in particular is deteriorating as criminal networks are becoming better organized and smugglers are increasingly using modern technologies for their illegal activities, according to European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson. She added that the annual profit of criminal groups smuggling migrants is up to 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion).
In this regard, Johansson called on people wanting to migrate to other countries not to get involved with criminal groups and urged the international community to join efforts in curbing undocumented migration.
The proposed measures to stop the migrant flow to Europe include tougher penalties for smugglers, who would face 10 years in prison for human trafficking and 15 years if people got killed as the result of their activities, the commissioner said.