Spanish police bust Vietnamese human trafficking ring that smuggled in 730 people

Several dozen suspects were arrested as police took down a criminal network worth millions that had smuggled at least 730 Vietnamese citizens into Spain.

Spanish police bust Vietnamese human trafficking ring that smuggled in 730 people
File photo: Pau Barrena/AFP.

Spanish police arrested 37 suspects across Spain accused of human trafficking. The criminal network was based in Barcelona and had smuggled in 730 Vietnamese citizens to Spain. The network charged €18,000 per person and then forced the trafficked victims to work in manicure centres upon arrival. 

Among those arrested was a public official in the region of Huelva, who falsified work permits and residency documents. 

The criminal organization filed asylum cases under the 'Provisions concerning protection measures for unaccompanied minors' directive, an E-wide law by which non-EU unaccompanied can claim asylum. The organization smuggled in people through airports in Madrid and Barcelona by filing fraudulent claims. 

The Vietnamese citizens who were smuggled first travelled to various destinations in Latin America before pretending to transit through the Spanish airports. Once in Spain, they claimed asylum.

Spanish agents began investigating the network last year when the number of applications for asylum for unaccompanied minors from Madrid and Barcelona suddenly increased.

The organization made €13 million from the illicit activity since the beginning of 2018 alone. The Vietnamese citizens paid €18,000 each to reach Spain, according to a report by Spanish police (in Spanish). Some paid in cash, others paid with land or assets in Vietnam or with deferred debt which they then paid back working in Spain. 

More than 100 Vietnamese beauty salons were inspected across Spain as part of the operation. Spanish police conducted their investigations in Sevilla, Granada, Murcia, Almería, Cádiz, Málaga, Madrid, Valencia, San Sebastián, Girona, Lérida, Tarragona, León, Huelva, Córdoba and Barcelona. Thousands of euros in cash, vehicles and assets were confiscated following raids in several locations.

Many of the people smuggled were forced to work 12-hour shifts in manicure centres, were made to live in squalid conditions and were denied freedom of movement – ferried to and from work under the supervision of the traffickers. 

READ MORE: Brazen drug trafficking alarms southern Spain






Police detain 25 Barcelona ‘ultra’ fans suspected of crime

Spanish police announced Friday the arrest of 25 'ultra' fans of FC Barcelona suspected of drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder.

Police detain 25 Barcelona 'ultra' fans suspected of crime

Police seized five guns, several knives, marijuana and €180,000 in raids carried out mainly in Barcelona and its suburbs, Catalan regional police said in a statement.

Those arrested on Friday are all suspected members of “los Casuals”, the most violent faction of FC Barcelona’s notorious Boixos Nois group of “ultra” fans, the statement added.

Several suspected leaders of the group were among those arrested.

The police investigation began in November following a violent attack on a bar popular with “ultras” from FC Barcelona’s cross-town rivals Espanyol in which several people were injured.

The authorities indentified six suspects as part of their investigation into the attack who were later found to belong to “los Casuals”.

The Boixos Nois, who have been banned from FC Barcelona’s stadium, have been the target of police operations in the past.

In 2018 police arrested 14 members for cocaine trafficking.