The Civil Guard releases 61 people subjected to labor exploitation

In the operation “Bravos” a criminal organization specialized in the trafficking and labor exploitation of citizens of the East has been dismantled

37 of the released persons have received the status of victims of trafficking in human beings by the Spanish authorities. Most of them have already returned to their home countries

It is estimated that in the last nine years, this criminal organization would have captured and transferred to our country more than 1000 people to subsequently exploit them in inhuman conditions

The leaders of this criminal network, a Romanian nationality marriage, have made illicit profits during years of work carried out by victims, who worked as seasonal workers in different citrus harvesting campaigns in the provinces of Castellón, Valencia and Lleida

The Civil Guard, in the so-called BRAVOS operation, has managed to dismantle a criminal organization specialized in introducing people from Eastern Europe, mainly from Romania and Bulgaria, through deception and abuse of superiority, in order to exploit them Labor as temporary workers in the citrus sector in provinces such as Valencia, Castellón and Lleida.

In the last phase of this operation, the agents of the Judicial Police of the Civil Guard in charge of the investigation, They have succeeded in freeing 21 victims, although in recent months, 61 people have taken a demonstration that, in most cases, have returned to their countries of origin, being their fundamental statements to corroborate the facts investigated.
Five people have been arrested, all of them of Romanian nationality, who are charged with crimes of Belonging to Criminal Organization and Trafficking in Human Beings for the purpose of labor exploitation, having entered four of them in prison. The two people with more weight in this criminal organization are a Romanian-born marriage, M.M and S.M, 49 and 45 years respectively, based in the province of Castellón and with a police record for similar events.

Capture of victims in their countries of origin

The victims were captured in their countries of origin, Romania and Bulgaria specifically, always taking advantage of some situation of economic and personal vulnerability, offering them a work contract in Spain with cash remuneration for the work performed, as well as a decent and free housing during the entire duration of the employment contract.
These people, in the face of dramatic personal situations, in most cases caused by a shortage of income with which to be able to pay basic necessities such as medicines or food, did not hesitate to accept the offer, getting to pay for the transfer to our country by bus or even by air, despite its precarious situation.
Upon arriving in Spain, and once distributed in different houses of the organization, they were received by the aforementioned marriage, informing them of the need to request a series of documents to legally work in Spain, such as the NIE, management for which they charged the workers the amount of 20 euros.
These documents, once requested and processed, were never delivered to the victims. In turn, the leaders of the organization, in order to have them controlled at all times, informed them that they could not leave under any concept of the houses where they were staying, except to go to work, and that for this they would have to go always accompanied by people belonging to the criminal organization investigated, teaching them themselves about what they would have to say before possible inspections.
Then, they were also informed of another series of circumstances that were going to be required from that moment, such as the payment of 3 euros per day for transfer to the workplace or another 75 euros per month for rent of housing , these extremes that appeared without cost for the workers in the initial conditions.

Deceived regarding working hours, working conditions, wages and accommodation

Regarding the workday, this also changed significantly with respect to the conditions offered at source, since in reality the daily citrus pick-up days would last for these temps, from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm, Monday through Sunday, with a 15-minute break to eat, considering the only work break on the days that the weather did not allow collection.
Continuing with the irregularities to which these workers were subjected, it should be noted that the payment method offered to them in their countries would be in cash, when, however, they were forced to open a checking account at a bank , with the excuse that they would charge by transfer.
For this procedure, they accompanied the workers to different branches, where the MM and SM themselves acted as interlocutors and translators between the seasonal workers and the staff of the entity, due to the ignorance of the Castilian by the former, facilitating the marriage their own address for notifications, where the different credit and debit cards contracted would arrive, having previously appropriated the physical book at the time of account opening.
All this allowed the marriage to withdraw at will the money deposited by the Temporary Work Companies in the current accounts of the workers, by way of payrolls, which are the ones that would later legally hire the victims. Once they had control of that money, they sent most of it to their country of origin, in order to launder it. The victims were paid in ridiculous amounts in cash, also discounting sums totally disproportionate in concepts of debts contracted by the workers, which they never understood, even using violence on them in the event they protested these issues.
Another serious irregularity detected by the agents is that, by agreement, this type of collection is legally paid at 1.20 euros per carrycot of citrus fruits, moving the day laborers from the fruit to the foot of the transport truck, when in fact, to the victims of This criminal organization, forced them to move each carrycot to the aforementioned transport, in addition to uploading and stacking it, work that would legally correspond to another group of workers.

Overcrowding: up to 25 people in three rooms

To all of the above, we must add the fact that these victims slept and lived in overcrowded conditions and without any privacy in shared rooms, accounting for up to 25 people in three rooms at the time of registration and a common kitchen in one of the houses of the organization, in conditions of total unhealthiness.
As a summary, and after more than 60 declarations of possible victims, the agents have been able to verify and corroborate that the victims were captured in their countries of origin through deception and in a clear abuse of a situation of superiority in situations of total vulnerability, limiting them their ambulatory freedom during the time they were in our country, having to work in totally illegal conditions under the Spanish legal framework, conditions that could be described as labor slavery.
The operation has been coordinated by the Court of Instruction No. 2 of Nules (Castellón) together with the Delegate Prosecutor for Immigration of Castellón, and carried out by the Human Trafficking Section of the UCO and the Organic Judicial Police Unit of the Comandancia de Castellón, with the support of units such as USECIC and Cinological Service.
For more information, you can contact the Press Office of the Central Operating Unit at 91.503.13.27.

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