Saturday 14 December 2019

Border guards in Spanish enclave find migrant hidden in suitcase

A 19-year-old migrant from Gabon is photographed in a suitcase in Ceuta, Spain (Spanish Interior Ministry/AP)
A 19-year-old migrant from Gabon is photographed in a suitcase in Ceuta, Spain (Spanish Interior Ministry/AP)

Border guards at a Spanish enclave in North Africa say they have detained a Moroccan suspected of attempting to smuggle migrants concealed in a suitcase and another suspected of hiding migrants in a car.

Customs agents in the enclave of Ceuta found a 19-year-old migrant from Gabon hidden in a suitcase pushed on a trolley by a woman who tried to cross the land border from Morocco on December 30, said a spokesman for the Guardia Civil.

The spokesman said the 22-year-old Moroccan woman raised suspicions by trying to avoid security checks.

When officials asked her to open the luggage, they found the teenager curled up in the poorly ventilated space. Police said the man received immediate medical attention.

On Monday, border police found two more migrants hidden in false compartments built into a car arriving from Morocco.

The migrants, from Guinea, were found when the vehicle was stopped for an inspection as it entered Ceuta. A 20-year-old man was found between the rear seats of the car and the boot, and a woman, 24, was in a hidden bottom built into the dashboard, guards said.

The driver was a 30-year-old Moroccan national who allegedly forged the number plates of the vehicle, stolen two years ago in Barcelona, police said.

Thousands of sub-Saharan African migrants living illegally in Morocco try to get to Europe each year by sea, often in small boats unfit for open waters. Hundreds also risk their lives by climbing the 20ft barbed-wire fences surrounding Ceuta and Melilla, Spain's other North African enclave.

On Sunday, around 1,100 African migrants stormed a border fence and attempted to enter Ceuta, leaving more than 50 Moroccan and Spanish border guards injured.


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