Portuguese Police Arrest 28 for Exploiting Agricultural Migrant Workers

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In a massive police operation against human trafficking on Tuesday, Portuguese police arrested 28 people and freed at least 100 migrants working on farms in the southern Baixo Alentejo region.

Those arrested included Portuguese nationals and foreigners, who are suspected of being part of a criminal structure dedicated to exploiting the labor of migrant workers, according to a police statement.

Police say the victims were lured from countries including Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, India, Senegal, and Pakistan with the promise of making decent money.

They were assured monthly sums of anywhere from €800 ($872) to more than €1,000 to work on the farms, Inspector Manuela Santos of the National Counterterrorism Unit told media on Tuesday.

However, she said they were only given between €100 and €250 per month, as those exploiting them said the rest of the money went to housing, food, and transportation.

Santos added that the workers lived in overcrowded conditions with “a severe lack of hygiene.”

“Since they are in a situation of great vulnerability,” Santos explained that the reports of the labor exploitation did not come from the workers themselves, but instead from people living nearby.

After the raid, in which 480 officers were deployed to execute 78 search warrants, those arrested were indicted for crimes such as criminal association, human trafficking, aiding illegal immigration, illegal labor recruitment, extortion, money laundering, tax fraud, bodily harm, possession of firearms, and forgery, police say.

Despite the major police operation, Santos admitted that the labor exploitation of migrant workers is still a widespread problem and hard to eradicate because it is an “activity that generates a lot of profit.”

Earlier this month, police in Spain arrested two men for forcing 43 migrants to work in “semi-slavery” conditions in the northeastern province of Zaragoza.

Source : aa