| 13 April 2024, Saturday |

Spanish police arrest 43 in crackdown on migrant worker exploitation

Spanish police announced on Thursday that they had dismantled a criminal organization that recruited mostly Moroccan migrants without legal status to work in the agricultural sector while selling them forged identification.

In order to help illegal immigrants regularize their status, the ring charged them up to 3,000 euros ($3,200) for phony employment contracts, according to a statement from the police. Officers in the southern province of Malaga detained 43 persons they believe to be part of the ring.

“Some of the migrants were housed in inhumane conditions in houses belonging to the organization,” it added.

A video released by police showed a cramped room with decrepit walls and a small single bed that was used to house migrants.

At least seven agricultural firms are believed to have taken part in the scheme dedicated to the “labor exploitation” of Moroccan nationals, the statement added.

Spain is a key gateway into Europe for illegal migration from Africa although arrival numbers decreased last year.

A total of 31,219 people entered Spain without permission last year, mainly by boat from Morocco — a drop of 25.6 percent over 2021, according to interior ministry figures.

About 800,000 Moroccans legally live in Spain, making it the biggest foreign population in the country, according to national statistics institute INE figures.

Migrant workers face a higher risk of forced labor than other workers, according to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO).

“The forced labor prevalence of adult migrant workers is more than three times higher than that of adult non-migrant workers,” it wrote in a September 2022 report.

  • AFP