Prison for four men for directing two boats to Almería in the last week | Spain

The facilities of the port of Almería, where the migrants are transferred.
The facilities of the port of Almería, where the migrants are transferred.NATIONAL POLICE (Europa Press)

The National Police has arrested four people accused of directing two boats from Algeria and who were rescued in the last week off the coast of Almería. These are four men aged 19, 24, 25 and 32 who, according to the police investigation, acted as skippers of a boat in which 11 migrants traveled and another with 18 more, who had paid between 4,500 and 7,000 euros for the journey. These four arrested, who have already entered prison, join the two who were also arrested last week, also already behind bars. Since last December 23, about 600 people have been rescued along the Almeria coast. Another three died at sea and Salvamento Marítimo has ended the active search for 17 missing people in boat wrecks in the last two weeks, as confirmed by sources from the state agency.

Two of the arrested persons directed the rudder and the navigation and refueling systems of a boat that left the coasts of Algeria last day 2 with 11 migrants, the majority of Maghreb origin. The boat, four meters long and two meters wide, was rescued around four in the morning on the 3rd off the coast of Almería. Two days later, in the early morning of January 5, a semi-rigid and semi-sunken vessel was found 35 nautical miles (almost 65 kilometers) south of Cabo de Gata. Eighteen people were traveling in it, including three women and three minors. All were transferred to the Port of Almería, where the Red Cross staff treated them.

In both cases, investigators from the Immigration Unit of the National Police began work to find out who was responsible for directing the boats to the Andalusian coast. According to police sources, they are people who belong to organized networks that make this type of journey their way of life. In fact, the tickets to get on board both boats cost, according to police sources, between 4,500 and 7,000 euros.

The police investigation finally determined that there were four people in charge of patronizing the boats using navigation systems. The four men have been charged with a crime against the rights of foreign citizens. After being brought to justice, their entry into prison has been decreed. It is the same fate of two other people arrested for the same reason last week, although they are also charged with homicide for the death of a person – a 17-year-old girl – during the journey from the beaches near Oran to Almería, as explained by Ana López, spokesperson for the National Police in Almería.

Some 600 people have arrived in different boats to the coast of Almería since last December 23, according to data from the Red Cross. The social organization assists them in the Almeria port area with humanitarian and health aid, but also psychological, especially to the relatives of those who died or disappeared in the shipwrecks. Salvamento Marítimo did extensive work last week to find these people, with three of its rescue vessels and a helicopter, but was unsuccessful. The agency has already suspended the active search, although it maintains the notice to sailors. In recent days the arrival of boats has stopped, especially due to the bad state of the sea. However, not far away, off the coast of Cádiz, three adults have been rescued this Monday when they were traveling in a kayak and have been transferred to the Port of Algeciras. During the past year, up to 6,519 people reached Almería irregularly by sea, of which 254 were minors, according to data from the National Police.

According to the report Monitoring the right to life published by the organization Caminando Fronteras, 4,404 people have disappeared on the access routes to Spain during 2021, including 628 women and 205 children. This figure is double that of the previous year, in which the sum amounted to 2,170, and is five times more than the 2019 count, 893. Most of the deaths occurred on the Canarian route.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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