Eleven exploited olive harvest workers freed in police raids

The living quarters where the workers slept.

The living quarters where the workers slept. / CNP

  • Spain's National Police have arrested seven alleged members of a human trafficking gang in Antequera

They slept on mattresses placed on bricks and pallets. They could not leave the warehouse where they lived, crowded together, and they were not allowed to contact anyone beyond the walls of their ‘prison’.

The National Police have freed eleven people of Romanian nationality who were being exploited by an alleged human trafficking network.

Seven individuals, of the same nationality, have been arrested in the operation in which the Romanian authorities also participated.

The National Police said in a statement that the released people lived "in very poor living conditions".

The dismantled criminal group was dedicated to attracting people from the Romanian town of Movileni. They offered them work on the olive harvest in Antequera for a monthly salary of five hundred euros.

According to the investigation, the victims returned to their country when the work period ended without getting the salary previously agreed upon.

Investigators said that they worked for days that lasted for more than eight hours and in many cases without registration with the social security system.

They were forces to live in storage warehouses in "very precarious" conditions, sleeping in cubicles according to the police.

In addition, the alleged exploiters didn’t allow them to leave at any time nor did they allow them to have contact with people outside the organisation.

"Given this isolation, they were at the mercy of the traffickers," said the National Police.

The investigation also involved the Romanian police authorities – through the offices of the Spanish Embassy in Romania.

Eventually the investigations culminated in raids being made in Antequera, where the organisation was based.

The National Police have reminded the public of their free 900 10 50 90 telephone hotline and the email addess to anonymously and confidentially report this type of crime.