The Guardia Civil detains two alleged pateristas who took 32 immigrants from Africa to Cartagena

Image of one of the detainees, in the custody of the Guardia Civil.

The Guardia Civil has arrested two people aged 25 and 33 accused of piloting a boat stolen days before in Villajoyosa (Alicante) with 32 people on board from North Africa, sources from the Benemérita reported in a statement.

The patrol boat of the Corps began its approach to inspect it, at which point the agents detected the presence of more than 30 people on board, despite the fact that the skiff was only eight metres long.

The Armed Forces began the investigation at the end of last month, when members of the Provincial Maritime Service of the Civil Guard who were carrying out surveillance of the territorial sea in the waters of Cartagena observed a suspicious vessel.

The skipper began a hasty escape at high speed with evasive and risky manoeuvres that endangered the passengers, who exceeded the maximum capacity by more than three times.

Despite the attempted escape, the vessel was intercepted and taken to the port of Escombreras in Cartagena, where work began to identify the crew members.

Judicial Police specialists concluded that 32 of them were foreign citizens from North Africa, without authorisation for legal entry into national territory, and another two were the alleged skippers of the boat, who were arrested as alleged perpetrators of a crime of favouring illegal immigration.

After this, the agents inspected the seized boat which, apparently, did not coincide with the characteristics of the boats usually used by the mafias that smuggle people into Spain illegally.

The visual inspection revealed that the serial numbers had been erased, so they continued with their examination until they found, in parts hidden at first sight, manufacturing codes and stampings corresponding to a boat stolen three days earlier in the Alicante municipality of Villajoyosa.

The boat, valued at 60,000 euros, has been returned to its owner, while the two detainees, of Moroccan and Algerian nationality, and who have also been instructed proceedings for an alleged crime of theft, have been remanded in custody after being placed at the disposal of the Court of Instruction number 4 of Cartagena.

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