The Spanish National Police and the Civil Guard, in a joint operation with the Romanian Police, have dismantled a criminal organization allegedly dedicated to trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labor exploitation in very extreme conditions. A total of eight people, all of them from the same family, have been arrested in the Sevillian town of Sanlúcar la Mayor for capturing people in Romania to exploit them in agricultural work. The victims came to Spain under the promise of decent work and prosperous living conditions, but the group’s members took advantage of their vulnerability and need to subject them to harsh working conditions. Among the ten people released, there is one under 15 years of age in an advanced state of pregnancy.
The origin of the investigation dates back to June last year, when the agents became aware of two complaints filed by two victims in the towns of Villena (Alicante) and Coria del Rio (Seville). Although the complaints seemed to be unrelated due to the large spatial and temporal margin, the investigators found links such as the modus operandi used to attract the victims, the nationality of the perpetrators, as well as coincidences in places where they were held and exploited for work among others.
From that moment, agents from both police forces joined forces to coordinate and investigate the events, the information provided by the Romanian Police through the Division of International Cooperation by the Office of the Interior being essential for the success of the investigation.
They took their passports and mobile terminals
As a result of these information, it was found that, since their arrival in Spain, their passport and mobile phone had been withdrawn from the workers, and they were held on the upper floors of the homes occupied by the members of the organization. In addition, these people were employed in agricultural work, imposing unfair working conditions of up to more than 10 hours a day.
After an exhaustive investigation, the agents verified that those investigated belonged to a criminal organization, formed by a perfectly structured family of Romanian nationality, which recruited workers at origin for their labor exploitation in agricultural estates in the province of Seville. Each person contracted with the organization a debt of 500 euros to formalize the employment situation as well as food and accommodation expenses, which were deducted from the precarious salary that they did not receive when they had to pay the interest generated by the debt contracted. In addition, the members of the organization adopted surveillance measures, completely isolating the victims, not allowing them to contact their relatives or leave the home without surveillance.
Ten people released in subhuman conditions
With all this information available, agents of the National Police and Civil Guard carried out last week, within the framework of the Flowerpot-Litter operation, two simultaneous searches in the Sevillian town of Sanlúcar la Mayor. Eight people were detained and another ten released, who were crowded on mattresses and dirty blankets arranged on the floor, lacking electricity and hot water, being able to verify the poor living and unsanitary conditions in which they lived. Among those released, there was a girl under 15 years of age in a fairly advanced state of pregnancy.
In addition to the personal documentation of the victims, up to a total of 25 mobile phones that were turned off and sealed in a bag in the custody of the members of the organization, as well as other effects and storage devices of data.
The detainees are charged with the alleged crimes of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labor exploitation, belonging to a criminal organization, falsification of documents, and one of them also usurpation of civil status. The judicial authority has ordered the imprisonment of three of the members of the organization.