'Human trafficking ring' broken up

  • Published
Media caption,
The BBC's Tom Burridge: "Authorities say human trafficking through Spain is an increasing problem"

Dozens of suspected people-traffickers have been arrested in Spain and France, suspected of smuggling Chinese migrants into Europe and US, police have said.

The main bosses of the organisation, which was reportedly based in Barcelona, were among those arrested.

Some 81 fake passports from countries around Asia were seized.

Police said the gang charged more than 40,000 euros (£34,000; $53,000) for each person, most of whom would end up in the UK or the US.

The gang would give the immigrants instructions on how to avoid being noticed at borders, including attempting to blend in with groups of tourists.

The Spanish police, which launched the investigation two years ago, said 51 people had been detained in Spain and another 24 in France.

The force said some of the group's activities had opened up the immigrants to sexual exploitation.

Images released by the police showed seized passports, cash and what appeared to be a handgun.

The BBC's world affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge says the EU and US have recognised that human-trafficking in and through Spain is an increasing problem.

But he says Spain has been taking action, particularly with protecting children and women.

Among their recent successes, Spanish police uncovered two prostitution rings in Madrid in March that were being run by Romanians.