Police arrest 30 in raids on child-smuggling ring in Spain and France

A gang had been using specially adapted buses to smuggle children, animals and drugs across Europe

Raids have taken place across France and Spain to break up a criminal ring smuggling child migrants.
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Police across Europe raided a smuggling ring that trafficked children and vulnerable migrants living in Spanish holding centres.

Investigators discovered a gang had been using specially adapted buses to smuggle children, animals and drugs across the continent.

The gang had been going after unaccompanied youngsters in migrant protection centres in Spain and inciting them to escape and embark on dangerous journeys towards western Europe.

The investigation started with the arrest of a Spanish national in France who was driving a bus with 22 migrants on board, six of whom were children.

It then triggered a large-scale investigation in Spain, which uncovered a criminal network allegedly headed by the main administrator of the company owning the buses, a Moroccan citizen.

The operation resulted in the arrest of 26 suspects in Spain and three in France.

Police raided 14 homes, resulting in the seizure of €33,000 (Dh133,532), various documents, computer equipment, more than 200 kilograms of hashish, a vehicle and a trailer.

The group had allegedly been using recruiters from different countries to get hold of Algerian, Malian, Moroccan and Syrian migrants.

They were then transported from the Spanish port of Almeria to France on buses owned by companies in France, Morocco and Spain.

The buses were also used to smuggle hashish, tobacco and hunting species.

The goods and animals were hidden in holes in the vehicles, which had been specifically created to conceal their smuggling activities.

The operation was carried out by Spanish National Police and the French National Police, supported by Europol.