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Boats of immigrants arrive at Costa Blanca

Mafia groups open up new route for illegal immigrants along the coast of Alicante

According to the government and the Spanish Civil Guard Mafia are using the coastline in the province of Alicante to smuggle illegal immigrants into Spain. With the arrival of at least five boats this weekend along the Costa Blanca in Guardamar del Segura, Pilar de la Horadada, El Campello and Benidorm, local government officials believe that the Mafia are looking for new routes into Spain following the massive increase in security around the coastline in the Canary Islands and Andalucia.

Encarna Llinares, a member of the local government in Alicante pointed out yesterday that the situation was not a total surprise for the security forces and that the government had been expecting this for some time. Llinares said that using the Alicante coastline was a new development but that the local government had been working on measures to deal with this and trying to strengthen coastline security against illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

However, despite this, the authorities are still looking for the occupants of 4 of the boats which were found empty, while 6 Algerians were detained following their arrival by boat in Benidorm.

This summer more than 20 boats have arrived on the Murcian coast whereas previously there had only been a couple of cases. Official sources believe that pressure from the Civil Guard on the Andalucian coastline is causing the Mafia who smuggle illegal immigrants into Spain to look further afield to new routes along the into Spain via the coastlines of Murcia, Alicante and even the Balearic islands.

In Murcia security forces have been investigating the possibility of a supply vessel from which immigrants then try to reach Spain in small boats, although this idea had recently been abandoned. However the arrival of 5 boats in various towns in the province of Alicante last Saturday indicate that there is a larger ship out at sea far away from Civil Guard controls from which the immigrants are placed into small boats and sent towards the Spanish coastline.

The first boats arrived in Vega Baja, at 4.30 am and 2 boats arrived in Guardamar del Segura and Pilar de la Horadada at 6.00 am. Two further boats arrived later on at Guardamar and El Campello at 7.00 pm and finally 1 boat arrived in Benidorm at 11 pm. Llinares confirmed that because the route from Africa is too far to travel in such small boats, the government believe that these arrivals are a strong indication that a larger ship is involved. Furthermore, the occupants of the boat which arrived in Benidorm showed no sign of fatigue or sunburn.

The Spanish National Police interrogated 4 of the occupants of the boat which arrived in Benidorm with the aim of trying to establish the details of their journey and collect clues to the routes used by the Mafia to smuggle immigrants into the province.

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