The Policía Nacional and Guardia Civil, together with the UK Border Agency, have broken up a people-smuggling ring dedicated to getting Iranians into the UK via the Canaries. Twenty two individuals have been arrested, thirteen in Tenerife, six in Madrid, and three in Fuerteventura.
Making the announcement, the Ministerio de Interior said that the group moved entire families at a cost of €20,000 per person, less for children. In policies similar to airlines, children under two travelled free. The families were hidden in buses or lorries to cross the Turkey-Greece border, or were provided with airline tickets based on false documents. The Canaries was an integral part of the route, and the immigrants, whom the traffickers called “animals, sheep or the herd”, were tutored in how to behave at the British border in order to acquire legal residence, most notably in how to allege fear of torture and persecution in Iran.
The Interior Ministry said that among those detained was the ringleader of the group; it confirmed that the operation began in February after an Iranian citizen was stopped in Tenerife trying to get on a flight to the UK with a fake French passport. Tenerife, indeed, was the headquarters of the group, which had members also in Irán, Greece, Germany and Sweden. All used a range of false identities, making the operation extremely complex, and the police’s success all the more notable.