The siren song from Spain was too attractive to refuse. That acquaintance, friend and even family member who emigrated years ago promised guaranteed travel and work to her compatriots in Honduras. But the artifice came to an end when, as soon as they disembarked at the Barajas airport (Madrid), the victims discovered that they had a debt of up to 6,000 euros to pay, through work as interns in homes in Chiclana de la Frontera (Cádiz ). Up to 26 Hondurans, mostly women of no more than 30 years, have fallen victim to a network of trafficking and labor exploitation, led by a 54-year-old woman and her 33-year-old son, with the collaboration of six more people who were part of two Cadiz companies that participated in the deception.
“The victims left children to help. But in addition to their situation of vulnerability, they added that they were even worse off than in Honduras because sometimes they didn’t even have enough to buy food, “sums up one of the researchers from the Foreigners Operational Group of the Cádiz Police Station. The team from Cádiz, aided by Group III of the UCRIF Central de Extranjeros (Central Unit for Illegal Immigration and Documentary Falsehood Networks) of the National Police, has spent almost two years unraveling the investigation and breaking the barrier of fear that gripped many of those who suffered deception. On May 11, the agents arrested the two main leaders and their six collaborators. The Mixed Court Number 5 of Chiclana de la Frontera has decreed the entry into prison for mother and child and freedom for the rest, although it continues to focus on taking statements from other people who could also end up being investigated, according to sources close to the case. . All are charged with alleged crimes of human trafficking and labor exploitation.
The investigations began in 2019 when one of the victims fled the exploitation to which she was subjected in Chiclana and reported the events at another police station in Spain. In total, the police have identified up to 26 Hondurans who have suffered the tricks of the plot, although the investigators do not rule out that “there are more.” All came after LLMA, and her son LACM, recruited acquaintances, friends, and even family members who continued to live in Honduras. They, resident in Spain since 2008, promised them travel and work through an invitation letter, a legal requirement to access the country in which a Spaniard argues that the newcomer is a relative or acquaintance. “They were really fake because they didn’t even know them. The leaders paid to third parties 300 euros per letter that they sent to the citizens who requested it and who are now part of the detainees ”, explains one of the policemen who has handled the case.
As soon as they landed in Madrid, the Hondurans were informed that they had contracted a debt of between 4,000 and 6,000 euros with the organization and were dispossessed of their documentation. Later, the mafia took them to Chiclana and, there, with the collaboration of two companies in Cádiz and Jerez de la Frontera that cared for the elderly, they assigned them a house where they entered to work as interns for dependent people. “Families paid companies between 1,200 and 1,600 for this service, but they [por las víctimas] they were actually in an irregular situation, they were paid between 400 and 600 euros in money envelopes and they were interned 24 hours a day, seven days a week ”, the inspector details about a modus operandi unknown to those employer clients. And the exploitation did not end there: the trafficking charged them about 300 euros for the rent of a house that they could not really step on because they were working and they asked for more money for the debt incurred.
That unsustainable pressure when they found themselves without resources for them – much less to help the children and relatives they left in Honduras – made them “break their fear” to speak, explains the agent. However, some of the witnesses are protected, fearing reprisals from the mafia. Among the mother and son collaborators who have ended up in detention are a worker from the Cádiz company, four from the Jerez company and signatories of the invitation letters. In fact, the police consider the collaboration of both companies – one of which has already been investigated previously in similar cases – as essential for mother and child to be able to carry out trafficking and exploitation against their compatriots.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.