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Spain and France bust a human trafficking ring

A human trafficking ring has been dismantled after authorities arrested 75 people in Spain and France. The gang had allegedly smuggled Chinese migrants into Europe and the United States.

On Saturday, Spanish and French police announced that 75 people were arrested, 51 in Spain and 24 in France, in connection with a "complex" human trafficking ring. The arrests also included two "main operatives" based in Barcelona.

The arrests come two years after the investigation first started.

The gang allegedly charged up to 50,000 euros ($66,700) per person to provide "false identities and transport Chinese citizens to the United States and countries such as Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Turkey," a police statement said.

It also said some of the people trafficked ended up in the sex trade.

The top two suspects were arrested in Barcelona, where authorities also recovered more than 80 fake passports, a firearm and wads of cash.

"The composition of this perfectly structured, hierarchical organization, with its kingpin in China and independent cells operating in different countries, completely shut off from each other, complicated the investigation," the statement said.

They said once the mission was accomplished the operatives, mainly from China and Malaysia, would return home immediately, "in order to make it more difficult to track them."

The traffickers accompanied their clients all the way from China to Spain. The gang's main European hub was Barcelona and they used it as a jumping-off point for the final destination.

hc/tj (AFP, AP)