Guardia Civil intercepts in Cartagena a vessel allegedly dedicated to the illegal transport of migrants

The captain has been arrested for the crimes of belonging to a criminal organisation, against the rights of foreign citizens and forgery of documents.

Operation ‘Otomana’ by the Guadia Civil – GUARDIA CIVIL

The Guardia Civil, in the framework of the operation ‘Otomana’, has intercepted a merchant ship in the waters of Cartagena (Murcia), where the captain of the ship has been arrested as alleged perpetrator of the crimes of belonging to a criminal organisation, against the rights of foreign citizens and false documentation, and has been remanded in custody.

In the operation, eight Syrian nationals were freed, allegedly victims of a criminal organisation dedicated to the illegal trafficking of human beings.

The investigation began thanks to the collaboration and cooperation between European agencies, when the Guardia Civil was alerted to the transit of a vessel allegedly used by a transnational criminal organisation for human trafficking, hidden under the guise of a livestock transport vessel.

The investigation was precipitated by the interception of two people in the municipality of Mazarrón who, apparently, came from the aforementioned ship and who had taken advantage of the proximity to the coast to leave it.

For this reason, the Guardia Civil proceeded to board the ship to inspect the vessel, as at that time it was in front of the port city of Cartagena.

After identifying the captain, the agents examined the maritime documentation and found that the documentation of eight people had been falsified in order to justify their presence on the ship as crew members, in the event of an inspection.

It was also found that these people were Syrian nationals who had no training or qualifications for maritime tasks, although during the journey they had apparently been forced to work on the ship under exploitative labour conditions.

After several months on board and fearing that the promise of reaching European territory would not be fulfilled and that, in the end, they would be disembarked in an Arab country which could lead to them being sent back to their countries of origin, they made a plan to abandon the boat.

From the analysis of the information obtained, it has been determined that the modus operandi began with the recruitment of Syrian nationals and people from other conflict zones, who were offered to be transferred to Europe for around 13,000 euros.

To do so, they would have acquired a livestock vessel, flying the flag of a third country, giving the migrants fictitious seafaring tasks, thereby exceeding the number of personnel required for this type of maritime transport.

Collaboration between European agencies has revealed that the vessel had changed its name on up to three occasions, to make it difficult to track and monitor by the different police forces.

The operation has been carried out by units of the Provincial Maritime Service, the Information Group, the Analysis and Investigation Office (ODAIFI) of the Public Prosecution Service and Citizen Security of the Civil Guard, with the support of the Cartagena Port Pilots Corporation.

The detainee and the proceedings were handed over to the Cartagena Magistrate’s Court, which ordered the detention of the detainee, as well as the seizure of the vessel.

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