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Spaniards sold their passports as part of Iranian people trafficking network 

Police in Spain have smashed one of the main networks dedicated to the trafficking of Iranian citizens into the UK.

Fourteen of the 15 members of the gang were arrested on the Costa del Sol and another 85 elsewhere.

The plot leader was arrested at London’s Heathrow airport as he tried to flee to Brazil to evade police.

The organisation charged their victims 25,000 euros for providing them with counterfeit Spanish passports, as well as for transfers and accommodation to their final destination.

“The investigations have made it possible to locate and detain 42 other people, also in Malaga, for selling their Spanish documents to members of the network in exchange for amounts ranging between 500 and 3,000 euros,” said a police spokesman.

“In addition, 44 other Iranian nationals were caught at different European airports with counterfeit passports.”

Police say this was one of the main international criminal networks – by the number of people trafficked – that operated in Europe specifically to smuggle Iranians into the UK.

The network used Spain, where it was based, as the stopping off point.

The investigations began a year ago after police discovered four Iranians trying to leave Hamburg in Germany for the UK using forged passports.

The tickets had been issued by a travel agency in Malaga which led to the identification of the people traffickers.

“The network, perfectly structured, had several members each with a role within the organisation, some dedicated to recruitment and others to the transfer, hosting, control or facilitation of documents,” said the police spokesman.

“They charged about 25,000 euros for each person trafficked. They were kept in accommodation in Spain until their documents were ready and they could fly to Britain.”

Information also suggested the ring leader had fled Spain for London and had a reservation to travel from Heathrow Airport to Dubai-Sao Paulo (Brazil). He was arrested at the airport on a European warrant.

Raids carried out by the police led to the seizure of computers, printers, more than 400 blank PVC cards, pistols and a simulated rifle, 1,300 euros and a vehicle of high range. There were also 30 Iranian passports and ten Spanish passports, all of them authentic.

Seven Iranians, including a child of five, were also found as they waited for their journeys.

The other 42 people arrested in Malaga had sold their passports for amounts of between 500 euros and 3,000 euros.