Immigrant exploitation gang arrested in Albatera

National Police have dismantled, in Albatera, a network dedicated to the exploitation of immigrants as day labourers in the fruit picking industry in the provinces of Alicante, Murcia and Almería. The network used a temporary work agency in Albatera as a front to give the appearance of legality to the exploitation of foreign workers in an undocumented situation. The workers were charged between 6,000 and 8,000 euros to provide them with contracts with which to regularise their stay in Spain.

24 people of different nationalities in Albatera and Murcia have been arrested, among which are those responsible for the scheme, which took advantage of the vulnerability of immigrants in an undocumented situation, who were then subjected to long, labour intensive working days for very little pay.

The Police revealed that those investigated are accused of crimes against the rights of workers, belonging to a criminal organisation, crimes against the rights of foreign citizens, crimes against the Public Treasury and Social Security and document falsification.

The investigation began at the beginning of the year by the Unit against Immigration Networks and Document Falsities (UCRIF) of Elche Police Station. Investigators became aware of a network that exploited immigrants as day labourers for fruit picking and began to carry out inquiries. It wasn’t long before officers detected the actions of a criminal organisation behind the exploitation of vulnerable immigrant workers.

Immigrants were subjected to marathon working hours, violating their most fundamental labour rights. The “modus operandi” used by the criminal network ranged from registering workers in an irregular situation, to “hiring workers who did not carry out any type of work activity and were not even in the country, to then change identities between workers in order to hire and avail of Social Security,” according to the Police.

The managers of the organisation charged between 6,000 and 8,000 euros to each immigrant that they fraudulently regularised through a network of companies with which they operated. Thanks to this, each worker benefited from access to different social benefits, such as unemployment or maternity benefits.

Those involved also allegedly defrauded Social Security, since they declared up to 85% less than what was actually worked by the immigrants.

Once all those involved had been identified, Elche National Police established sting operations in Albatera and Murcia for the location and interception of vans used to transport irregular foreign workers.

Officers intercepted up to nine vans, from which they were able to identify more than thirty foreigners in an irregular situation in Spain.

The National Police continues to carry out investigative efforts in order to locate more possible victims.

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