Spain Dismantles Two Criminal Organizations That Smuggled Hundreds Of Chinese Nationals


Europol said it supported the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional) in dismantling two criminal organizations that smuggled hundreds of Chinese nationals using a variety of fraudulent methods.

According to the Spanish authorities, the criminal networks smuggled over 1,000 victims, most of whom were later sexually exploited. These rings are alleged to have earned EUR5 million from their criminal activities, Europol said.

According to Europol, such a complex investigation had to be conducted in two phases: in the first, Spanish law enforcement authorities arrested 35 suspects for belonging to a criminal organisation, facilitating illegal immigration and forging documents. Following these arrests, the Spanish police arrested 34 more suspects for allegedly issuing fraudulent documentation to facilitate the legalisation of the migrants. 

As a result of the operation, Europol said that 69 arrests were made, as well as 7 luxury vehicles seized and EUR80,000 in cash, as well as various electronic devices and documentation.

Europol said it provided operational analysis support during throughout the investigation and, on the action day, deployed an analyst on-site to Toledo, Spain to provide on-the-spot assistance and forensic expertise.

From fake work contracts to sham marriages

The investigation revealed that the two dismantled organisations were established in Guadalajara, Madrid and Toledo (Spain) but had branches scattered throughout Spain, including Barcelona, Coruña, San Sebastián, Seville and Valencia. They carried out their criminal activities independently, although they occasionally cooperated when necessary.

Europol said the criminal organisations provided victims with fraudulent work contracts and fake registrations in municipalities where they never lived in order to obtain legal status in Spain. They even arranged sham marriages and provided advice on how to successfully pass the interviews during the application procedures.

Several law firms collaborated with the criminals by helping them draft the fake documentation. These firms received between EUR500 and EUR1,000 in exchange for each victim.

Links to Europe’s largest Chinese prostitution ring

The case is connected to an operation task force that Europol has been supporting since 2020 and which led to the dismantling of Europe’s largest Chinese criminal network involved in trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation.

The case is also linked to an operation targeting a criminal organisation trafficking human beings for the purposes of sexual and labour exploitation in Mallorca (Spain). The operation took place in March 2024 and resulted in 17 arrests and the protection of 13 victims.

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