7 Years Sentence for Smuggling Migrants from Morocco

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
5 Min Read

The Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia, Ceuta, and Melilla (TSJA) has sentenced a Melilla citizen to seven years in prison for a crime against the rights of foreign citizens. The individual, with a history of previous offenses, was involved in the illegal smuggling of around ten migrants from Morocco to Melilla using a recreational boat.

Additionally, the accused has been penalized with an additional six months in prison for resisting law enforcement officers. This resistance occurred when he ignored the orders of the Civil Guard’s Underwater Activities Group (GEAS) to stop. During the confrontation, the accused maneuvered the boat to evade the authorities, resulting in an unintended collision and subsequent arrest.

According to the judicial ruling obtained by Europa Press, the higher court rejected the defendant’s appeal against the initial sentence issued by the Provincial Court. The confirmed sentence is seven and a half years in prison for the events that occurred around 9:00 PM on August 19, 2022.

The judges noted that on that day, the accused was steering a black-painted recreational boat, obscuring its registration number to hinder identification. After engaging in suspicious maneuvers in the South Dock and the area of New Beach in Melilla throughout the afternoon, the boat attracted the attention of different Civil Guard patrols.

The judicial document revealed that the defendant sailed towards a nearby beach in Morocco, where he picked up an undetermined number of people, around “11 or 12,” all of whom were Moroccan nationals without legal residence in the European Union and lacking authorization to enter Spanish territory. These migrants had “paid various amounts of money” to be clandestinely introduced into Spanish territory.

Furthermore, the boat’s captain navigated with the lights turned off “to avoid detection on his return,” approaching the desalination plant area to attempt to disembark the individuals lying on the floor of the boat. Upon realizing the presence of a Civil Guard patrol at that point, the individual decided to change the landing point, moving towards the New Beach area in Melilla, known as “Playa de las Horcas Coloradas.” There, after colliding with rocks, he pushed the people on board into the sea and swiftly turned towards the open sea with the intention of escaping the Civil Guard.

The individuals aboard the boat, thrown into the sea, “managed to reach the coast with great difficulty, assisting each other.” Eight of them were intercepted, assisted by Civil Guard agents on the coast, and received medical attention. They had been in danger of losing their lives after being thrown into the water at night, in darkness, in rough terrain, considering adverse sea conditions with a storm and waves exceeding one meter.

After throwing the migrants into the sea, the accused fled with the boat into the open sea, “in total darkness, with no visibility due to the darkness of the night and the storm.” However, the land patrols of the Civil Guard never lost sight of him “using thermal cameras.”

A boat from the Specialized Underwater Activities Group (GEAS), known as the “Abaco” team, was alerted and guided from the coast by agents who were monitoring the boat. They attempted to intercept it, using activated light signals, identifying themselves as Civil Guards several times and shouting at the accused to stop.

Nevertheless, the individual “ignored the order, making maneuvers to evade the Civil Guard’s boat, crossing in front of the GEAS boat, stopping abruptly, and crossing his boat in front of the Civil Guard’s boat, causing it to collide with his in the stern area.”

As a result of the collision, which soon led to the sinking of the boat due to damage, two agents suffered contusions, and a third had damage to his official uniform.

For all these reasons, TSJA sentenced him to seven years in prison for a crime against foreign citizens and six months for resisting authority.


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