The police say that 47 persons have been arrested during a joint Policia Nacional and Royal Gibraltar Police operation targeting an organised crime group trafficking migrants from Morocco into Spain and various other European countries. Over 130 Moroccan nationals trafficked into Spain. 

Each migrant trafficked from Morocco was charged between 7000-8000 euros, resulting in the organised crime group deriving over 1 million of euros in profit from their illicit activity.

This illicit activity has impacted on 18 Spanish provinces and five European countries; as a result, over 200 Policia Nacional officers together with the Royal Gibraltar Police have participated in this operation, all coordinated by EUROPOL.

The investigation culminated with the execution of 2 search warrants at residential properties in La Linea and Gibraltar, the latter on the strength of a European Investigation Order. Approximately 19,000 euros in cash, 12 mobile devices, 5 vehicles and diverse documentation have been seized during searches. The investigation was initiated in November 2018, when the Royal Gibraltar Police detected a significant increase in the number of Moroccan travellers arriving in Gibraltar from Casablanca and Tangier using United Kingdom short-stay tourist visas. Such visas are not valid for entry into or transit through any country of the Schengen area, thus holders of such visas could not legally enter Spain.

The organised crime group was comprised of two branches; one in Morocco and the other in Spain's Campo de Gibraltar (Gibraltar and La Linea de La Concepcion).

The police statement adds that in Gibraltar, traffickers facilitated the clandestine crossing of migrants across the frontier into Spain using various vehicles belonging to members of the organised group, primarily during the hours of darkness to hinder the identification of vehicle occupants. On occasions, migrants would be accommodated in Gibraltar hotels until they could be transported clandestinely into Spain.

Once migrants had been successfully smuggled into Spain, they were either housed in a residence belonging to one of the organisation's ringleaders or in hostels across La Linea de La Concepcion. The day after their entry into Spain, migrants would be provided with coach tickets to destinations across Spain or other European destinations. For their Gibraltar reception, clandestine entry to Spain, temporary accommodation and transportation to their onward destination, migrants were charged an additional 500-700 euros.