Spanish police arrested 72 people and broke up a band dedicated to illegally smuggling Albanian citizens to Britain, authorities said Monday.
The majority of the Albanians were introduced into Britain with fake travel documents acquired in Italy or Greece, for which they each paid 500-4,000 euros (about $669-$5,354).
Of the 180 trafficking victims identified, 14 were minors and many were women.
Some of the women were forced to work as prostitutes.
Among those arrested in the operation, which remains ongoing, were members of the group allegedly tasked with providing support in Spain to the leaders of the network living in Albania, Italy and Greece.
The Spanish members of the group were “facilitators” living mainly in Barcelona who held the immigrants’ original documents, found lodging for them and obtained airline tickets for them or transported them to the airport.
Meanwhile, the members of the organization in Britain, who also acted as facilitators, were also responsible for buying airline tickets and accompanying the migrants on their trips, as well as instructing them so that they did not have any problems at customs or security control points.
Spanish police carried out raids at two houses and a brothel in Barcelona, where they seized roughly $14,000 in cash, including euros, dollars and British pounds, as well as a pistol, among other items.