Spain arrests 89 accused of running people-smuggling ring

MADRID (REUTERS) - Spanish police have arrested 89 people accused of being part of a network which smuggled Chinese nationals into Britain, Ireland, Canada and the United States, the interior ministry said on Saturday (Oct 10).

The network, run by Chinese and Pakistani citizens, used Spain as a transit point, housing the people in apartments in the northeast of the country while they awaited falsified travel documents, the ministry said.

The smugglers charged up to 20,000 euros (S$31,664) per person, half paid in the country of origin and the other half to be handed over once they arrived at their destination, according to ministry.

If the second payment was not made, travel documentation was withheld and, in many cases, family members were threatened, it said.

Four of those arrested face charges of belonging to a criminal organisation, document falsification and crimes against foreign citizens, while the other 85 are accused of document falsification and crimes against foreign citizens, the ministry said.

The investigation began following several arrests in Spanish airports of people carrying fake passports from countries including South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Portugal, it added.