Seven Hundred Illegal Immigrant Mafias Smashed (Spain)

Seven hundred illegal immigrant mafias smashed
13 September 2006

MADRID More than 700 human trafficking gangs involved in shipping illegal immigrants to Spain have been broken up, the deputy prime minister said on Wednesday

Mara Teresa Fernndez de la Vega said more than 1,000 people had been arrested for trafficking immigrants from Senegal and Mauritania to Spain's Canarys Islands.

The announcement came as Senegal was preparing on Wednesday to return 1,000 would-be migrants from Spain, the first large-scale repatriation.

Spain is to host a summit of foreign ministers from southern Europe on 29 September to deal with the crisis.

The meeting will aim to deal with finding ways to deal with the thousands of migrants who are expected to make the journey to Spain from north and west Africa.

Next week, the European Union is set to approve a plan to reinforce measures against illegal immigration into the continent from Africa.

In response to a question from Ricardo Melchior Navarro, of the Canarys Coalition, the deputy prime minister said Spain was working with FRONTEX, the EU borders agency, to finance centres in Mauritania and Senegal to deal with migrants who have been repatriated.

Between Spain and other European countries, she added, 552 gangs had been broken up and 2,281 people arrested.

But Melchior said people in the Canary Islands were “sick of words and promises”.

Instead, he said, they wanted “immediate action” because “we all want to avoid a serious clash between the Canary Islands and the State”.