A network that illegally brought Colombians into Spain through Madrid’s Barajas Airport has been dismantled. The Spanish police have arrested 4 individuals as presumed leaders of the network, which charged between 1,500 and 200 euros per person to facilitate illegal entry into the European country.
The arrests took place at Madrid Airport, Spain, as the network was trying to bring in 13 people from a flight originating in Bogota, Colombia. According to police reports, it is estimated that around 1,000 people may have been irregularly brought into the country. The operation is ongoing, so more arrests are not ruled out.
Additionally, the Spanish police have seized 23,000 euros in cash, various computer equipment, and important documents that clarify how the network was organized. Furthermore, Spanish judicial authorities have requested Colombian authorities to freeze a bank account in Colombia with over 600 million pesos (about 145,000 euros), various financial products and even real estate in Colombian territory.
They Simulated Tourist Trips
The network simulated tourist trips to Spain for adults and minors accompanied by adults, although the goal was to ensure a longer stay on Spanish soil than the 90 days allowed without a visa. This requirement, the visa, was eliminated for Colombian citizens wishing to enter European Union territory in 2015. Since then, it is no longer necessary to obtain a tourist visa, and the legal stay period for a Colombian passport holder in European territory is 90 days.
The now-dismantled organization had started operating in December 2021. The main person responsible for the human trafficking network, one of the 4 detainees, advertised the services of his organization through social media, emphasizing that they specialized in accompanying minors. In fact, the network claimed it could bring minors into Spain even if their parents were in an irregular situation.
A Travel Agency in Colombia as Cover
To organize the trips, the illegal network had the cover of a travel agency located in Colombia. In this way, those responsible for the illegal actions processed the necessary documentation, plane tickets, and all the other procedures required for the transfer of travelers from Colombia.
The network even provided travelers with instructions on how to behave at border checkpoints to avoid suspicion and even guidance on the most suitable clothing to wear to simulate being tourists.
Furthermore, the organization had a group of collaborators who accompanied the migrants throughout the journey to create the credible appearance of a tourist trip.
Once in Spain, the network handed over these migrants to relatives who were waiting for them on Spanish soil. Subsequently, they were advised to register in the municipality of residence. This is a mandatory procedure in Spain that allows a person to register in the municipality in which they live.
It is a necessary step to demonstrate residence and family ties, and to have the right to services such as medical care and free education for minors in schools or institutes in the municipality. Anyone wishing to prove their presence in Spain, beyond the time allowed for tourism, must complete this process. To do this, it is only necessary for the holder of a property rental contract, or the property owner, to authorize the registration of the person or persons living in the property at a municipal service office of the city council.