Tag Archives: Morocco

Europol: Spain exotic birds traffickers arrests

Police have recovered 280 exotic birds, valued at over one million euros, among which featured macaws, parrots and cockatoos, all of which are endangered species protected by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). These birds were destined to be sold to North African countries – Morocco in particular, where the demand for them is high.

Codenamed ‘ORATIX’, this operation took place earlier this year in February and March in the Spanish cities of Malaga, Murcia, Granada, Alicante and Asturias.

The investigation initiated in 2019 uncovered how this criminal group would sell these endangered species to North African buyers using forged documents. The criminals would then arrange for the birds to be smuggled out of Spain hidden in buses heading to the African continent. The traffickers were supported by a Moroccan citizen who worked in a travel agency and arranged the logistics. They also developed their illegal business online, where they would sell birds but never deliver them, despite the buyers having paid for them. In addition, over 400 marijuana plants were discovered during the house searches, indicating that this group of traffickers was involved in a variety of criminal activities.

Europol supported this investigation from its on-set, providing operational and strategic analysis and piecing together evidence to identify the route used by the smugglers. One of its experts was also deployed on-the-spot in Spain to assist the law enforcement authorities with the cross-checking of information against Europol’s databases.

It is believed that parrot smuggling worldwide is on the rise. Some species can reach several hundreds of thousands of euros on the black market. The demand driving this illicit trade comes from collectors and breeders, but also citizens who want them as pets. However, this desire to own such exotic birds is killing them off.

A number of parrot species are threatened with extinction due in part to pressures from collecting for the pet trade. There is however legal protection in place. All but two parrot species are protected under CITES, as a result of which their commercial trade is either prohibited or strictly regulated with export permits.

With dedicated staff working on environmental crime, Europol supports EU Member States in their investigations to stop criminals damaging our ecosystems beyond repair.

Spain: Cupid fraud for migrants

On 10 December 2019, the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), supported by Europol, dismantled an organised crime group involved in the facilitation of illegal immigration by arranging sham unmarried partnerships in Spain. The partnerships of convenience were set up to ensure legal permanent permits of residence for irregular migrants.

The operation led to 11 searches of properties and companies, 30 arrests and the seizures of a luxury car, over €10 000 in cash and a high number of documents. Solid evidence of facilitation of illegal immigration and document fraud was found during the searches.

The organised crime group recruited Spanish women willing to be part of unmarried partnerships. Non-EU migrants, wanting to migrate or formalise their stay in Europe, acquired similar rights of EU citizens through the fraudulent partnerships with the Spanish women. Each migrant had to pay between €8 000 and €12 000 for this service. The woman in these pretend partnerships were paid €3 000 for their “I do” as a pretend partner.

The members of this highly complex organised crime group owned several shell companies and were Moroccan and Spanish nationals. The women, also members of the crime group, were registered as employees in these companies. Their employment contracts allowed them to justify their revenues and gave the companies a legitimate legal appearance. A money laundering component was also detected during the investigation.

Europol provided coordination and analytical support and facilitated the information exchange. On the action day, Europol also deployed experts on-the-spot to cross-check operational information in real time against Europol’s databases and to provide technical expertise.

ISIS fighter repatriated to Italy

An Italian foreign fighter was repatriated on after being arrested in Syria, ANSA news agency reports. (Image above: illustration).
Samir Bougana, (25) from Moroccan  origin, allegedly first fought with militias affiliated to Al Qaeda and then with ISIS.

An arrest warrant for Bougana  was issued for the crime of association with terrorism after Brescia prosecutors opened an investigation into his activities in 2015. He is suspected to have reached the war zone in 2013 from Germany. His repatriation was fulfilled in cooperation between the Italian authorities and the FBI, who contacted the Kurdish-Syrian forces that Bougana surrendered to in August 2018.

Bougana was born in Gavardo, near Brescia, and lived in Italy until he was 16 before moving to Germany with his family.

Hundreds of Africans stormed Spanish border

One African illegal migrant died and three others were injured when a crowd of more than 300 people stormed the border fence separating Spanish enclave Melilla from Morocco, the local authorities informed.

Hundreds of illegal migrants managed to scale the seven-meter high metal barrier and were taken to a reception center in Melilla where officials started the process of identifying them.

Migrants storm border in Spain

A crowed of 300 strong sub-Saharan African migrants stormed the six-metre razor-wire fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla early morning hourse on Tuesday, 9.05.2016, at least hundred of them successfully crossed the border, police said.

Three police officers were injured and required medical attention after the 0500 GMT incident. Illegal migrants threw stones at border security, Spanish police added.

Spain’s two enclaves in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, are often used as entry points into Europe by African migrants, who either climb over border fences or try to swim along the coast. (PHOTO: illustration)

Europol struggling with traffickers

Suupported  by Europol, the Spanish Guardia Civil has dismantled a criminal network accused of facilitating illegal immigration from Morocco to Spain, as well as trafficking hashish. It is estimated that the criminal network could have facilitated the entry of at least 300 irregular migrants, some of them minors, and made EUR 350 000 in profits.

During an action day on 21 March, eight suspects were arrested in the regions of Huelva and Moguer in southern Spain and six houses were searched. Europol supported the investigation by deploying an expert from Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre to Spain to provide real-time information exchange. (Photo: illustration)

This action is part of a wider investigation named ‘’Yaravi’’ that started in October 2016. Since its beginning, 16 suspects have been arrested in total, alongside EUR 16 435, 17 mobile devices, two vehicles, one laptop and 132 kg of hashish seized.

The investigation began when Spanish authorities detected the arrival of various vessels transporting irregular migrants to the southern Spanish coast of Barbate. Investigations revealed at least eight disembarkations at the Spanish coast, facilitating the irregular entry of 30 to 45 migrants each, along with significant amounts of hashish.

The irregular migrants paid the organised crime group EUR 1200 euros in advance for the facilitation of their illegal immigration to Spain by sea. Some of these journeys were carried out in dangerous conditions, such as bad weather, and threatened migrants’ lives.