08:14 GMT +319 December 2018
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    Migrants and refugees call out to Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms workers, after being located out of control sailing on a rubber boat in the Mediterranean Sea, about 18 miles north of Sabratha, Libya

    Group Smuggling Palestinians Into Europe as Lebanese Refugees Detained in Spain

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Spanish police and the European Union's law enforcement agency, Europol, have detained nine members of a criminal organization that was smuggling migrants from Palestine to the European Union as Lebanese refugees, the Spanish National Police Corps said in a press release on Sunday.

    The investigation revealed that the suspects had been providing migrants from Palestine with documents showing that they were asylum seekers from Lebanon, the press release said. After entering Spain as fake Lebanese refugees, the migrants did not wait to get a refugee status in Spain and were smuggled into Belgium and Germany via France instead.

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    The police corps also said that the suspects had demanded 8,000 euros (over $9,000) from each Palestinian migrant, and the total number of Palestinians smuggled into Europe by the group is estimated at 1,200.

    The police have also carried out a series of searches, confiscating $19,000 in cash and seven vehicles along with data storage devices and records about 475 migrants.

    The press release also said that five of the suspects had been detained in Spain and another four in France.

    According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), almost 55,000 migrants reached Spain between the beginning of the year and November 4.

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    human traffickers, smugglers, arrest, refugees, European Union, Lebanon, Spain
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