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Albanians smuggled into UK via Spain 

Investigations continue in Spain, the UK, Italy and Greece into an organised crime ring dedicated to the illegal trafficking of Albanian citizens into Britain.

Police have already identified around 180 victims of the gang, which would often sexually exploit women. Fourteen of these are children but it is believed many more people have been smuggled in using false papers and passports for fees of up to 4,000 euros each.

So far, they have made 72 arrests in the countries involved, with the ringleaders believed to have been based in Barcelona. They face crimes of forgery, aiding and abetting illegal immigration and belonging to a criminal group organising prostitution.

Investigations began a year ago after officers detected a large increase in the number of Albanians flying in to Prat de Llobregat airport in Barcelona from Italy or Greece and then on to the UK. They were using false pass-ports or ones which had earlier been stolen or lost.

Investigators said they had a difficult time getting to the truth as most of the Albanians said little because they had been warned and threatened by the gang. However, it was discovered they usually made the journey to Italy or Greece using their own papers but on arrival in Spain, received a pack containing passports, identity cards, health cards, student cards, driver’s licence and so on.

Five properties were raided in Barcelona, inclu-ding a brothel, and cash seized, including nearly 9,000 euros and 400 pounds. Police also found a gun, false high-end watches, numerous computer devices and paper-work. They also discovered false documents, such as identity cards for all different nationalities, and credit cards.