Spanish police have dismantled a major human-trafficking organisation that smuggled Africans into Europe.
The gang is suspected of bringing around 1,000 people, including children and pregnant women, from sub-Saharan Africa to Spain, who were then distributed between France, Germany and Belgium, a police statement said on Friday.
Each smuggled person paid the gang at least €500 (Dh2,075).
The ring was organised out of Spain’s Catalonia region and run mostly by sub-Saharan Africans.
The police operation, involving authorities from Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal, led to the arrest of 12 people.
Two raids were carried out in Spain and the Netherlands.
Last month the UK warned that criminal gangs would focus on lorry drivers for recruitment into human trafficking rackets after their illegal operations slowed during the coronavirus outbreak.
British authorities have reported a sharp rise in attempted small boat crossings between England and France during the pandemic but migrant smuggling overall was down significantly because of the slowdown in international trade.
As the UK eases its lockdown, the head of the National Crime Agency, which targets Britain's most serious criminals, said it had alerted authorities about a probable sharp rise in efforts to corrupt lorry drivers, port and airport workers who may have suffered financially during the pandemic.