Just days after the UK trial of the UK’s biggest modern-day slavery network and the imprisonment of 8 Polish nationals, the National Police in Spain has arrested 30 people that belonged to two criminal gangs dedicated to labour exploitation of immigrants on farms in Alicante and Murcia.
The immigrants are said to have lived in conditions of semi – slavery and after working long hours, for which they usually received a salary lower than what they promised, they had to sleep on floors and filthy mattresses in warehouses and garages.
Among the detainees are two businessmen from Orihuela and one from Murcia, owners of fruit processing and packaging businesses. The detainees are accused of crimes against the rights of workers, belonging to a criminal group, identity theft and the illegal immigration of their employees. The three alleged ringleaders of the network are of Bolivian origin and are being held in prison following court appearances in Murcia and Jumilla.
The investigations were carried out by police agents from Murcia and Alicante who launched a joint operation which uncovered the existence of two criminal groups that were engaged in recruiting foreign workers without work permits and in an irregular situation for subsequent employment in agricultural tasks.
They also hired minors without authorisation to work, offered deceptive working conditions and the immigrants were housed in inhumane conditions in industrial and local warehouses used to garage vehicles. The employees who were exploited often receive no salary at all or were paid less than initially agreed.
Immigrants in an irregular situation and living in extreme poverty were rounded up in cities such as Madrid, Valencia, Alicante and Murcia. For this, the gangs put ads on Internet sites, social networks, street posters and even announcements on Latin radio stations.
Once recruited they were moved to the farms where they were put to work, after which, according to the police, they were subjected “to conditions of servitude or semi-slavery.”
In the exploitation phase of the operation, agents of the Unit against Immigration and Documentation Falsedad (UCRIF) of the Police of Murcia and Alicante carried out four inspections in warehouses and farms of Jumilla, Murcia, Archena and Orihuela.