MADRID, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Spanish National Police on Sunday confirmed their participation in a joint operation with French authorities and Europol which has produced nine arrests and dismantled a people trafficking organization dedicated to taking Palestinians from Lebanon to Europe.
The network is thought to have introduced around 1,200 Palestinians into Spain through Madrid's Adolfo Suarez-Barajas Airport, before transporting them to Belgium and Germany.
Five suspects, including the leader of the organization, were arrested in Spain and four in France, with police reporting that the group charged 8,000 euros (9,000 U.S. dollars) per person for its services and had estimated total earnings of around 9 million euros.
Police also searched 3 buildings (2 in France and one in the Spanish capital of Madrid), seizing 10,000 euros and 8,000 dollars in cash, as well as seven vehicles, computer hardware and documents "among which was a diary containing the identity and money paid relative to the trafficking of 475 people."
The police add that they "expect more arrests" as part of an operation "which is ongoing."
The people trafficking organization used a complicated route to bring the Palestinians to Spain via Ethiopia, Brazil and Bolivia. When the Palestinians then made a stopover at Madrid's Adolfo Suarez-Barajas Airport, supposedly on-route from Bolivia to Lebanon, they requested International Protection "as a way of gaining access to Schengen territory."
The police explain that "far from intending to continue with the administrative procedures which resulted for their request, the organization transported the Palestinians to Belgium and Germany in 'people carrier' vehicles."
In order to ensure the maximum security possible the network changed both vehicle and driver in the French city of Bordeaux before continuing with the journey to northern Europe. (1 euro = 1.14 US dollars)