Police bring down group which exploited undocumented foreign workers in restaurants

  • The dozen victims were recruited in either India or Pakistan to work 12-hour shifts in restaurants for as little as 400 euros

A total of 39 arrests have been made to bring down a criminal gang allegedly responsible for exploiting the precarious situation of a dozen undocumented migrants on the Costa del Sol.

This was a result of the so-called 'Operación Samaka' which started in 2017 after a worker at a Pakistani restaurant filed a police complaint over his working conditions.

According to the central government representative in Malaga, Miguel Briones, who gave a press conference on Wednesday, the National Police's investigations led to the arrests and the liberation of 12 victims.

He explained that the gang looked to recruit the victims in their country of origin, principally in India and Pakistan, offering them work in Spain in one of five restaurants. Once here, according to investigators, they were forced to work up to 12 hours a day, without a day off, for just 400 or 500 euros a month.

The workers were also told that if there were work inspections, they should identify themselves as others who were living in Spain legally and were registered with social security.

According to the investigation, another way that the organisation maintained this exploitation, was through organising marriages of convenience that would regularise their situation. They would charge between eight and ten thousand euros to organise a marriage to a Spanish citizen, normally older women with money problems, keeping the employees indebted, working for several months without pay to pay it off.

Searches were carried out at the five restaurants as well as at the home of the man believed to be orchestrating the operation. 170,000 euros in cash and a top-of-the range vehicle were seized.

Of the 29 arrests, 19 were made in Malaga, two in Torremolinos, eight in Fuengirola, five in Marbella, one in Coín and four in Mijas. Those arrested are accused of document fraud, crimes against the rights of foreign citizens and workers and tax and social security fraud.