Irish link to Chinese people-trafficking network

Gardaí are working with Spanish authorities after police there arrested 155 people in relation to a Chinese people-trafficking operation with links to Britain and Ireland.

Following a three-year operation by the Spanish national police, four leaders of the criminal organisation were arrested yesterday, in the wake of the arrest of 151 migrants caught in possession of fake passports.

Initial reports suggested those arrested were going to Britain or Ireland — but following checks by Garda authorities it was established that only one or two were intending to come here and the vast bulk were heading to Britain.

In a statement, the Policia Nacional said each migrant paid €20,000 to be brought from China to Europe — suggesting a total income of about €30m.

Spanish police said the gang charged the €20,000 “flat rate”, which included false passports, travel, and temporary accommodation.

It said the migrants were brought from China to Spain and put up in flats in Barcelona.

The criminals took their travel documentation and awaited the arrival of new travel documents, which were made in China and posted through parcel and courier companies.

“The criminal network acquired the air tickets on the same day of the flight to hinder the police action and had ‘passers’, who accompanied and guided trafficked persons throughout the trip, and ‘teachers’ who instructed them with English phrases most commonly used in border control,” the statement said.

The police investigation began three years ago when officers detected a significant increase in fake documentation by citizens of Asian origin who intended to fly to the UK.

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