11 arrested in Morocco over suspected illegal migration organization

BENYOUNECH, MOROCCO: African immigrants are guarded by Moroccan army after they were caught in the forest of Benyounch, on the Moussa mountain, near a border-crossing between Morocco and Spain's north African enclave of Ceuta, 29 September 2005. Five people died and more than 90 were injured when hundreds of would-be immigrants tried to storm a border-crossing between Morocco and Spain's north African enclave of Ceuta early 29 September, as the countries' prime ministers held a summit on illegal immigration. AFP/PHOTO/ ABDELHAK SENNA. (Photo credit should read ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: African immigrants are guarded by Moroccan army after they were caught in the forest of Benyounch, on the Moussa mountain, near a border-crossing between Morocco and Spain’s north African enclave of Ceuta. (Photo credit ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

The Moroccan authorities on Friday arrested 11 sub-Saharan Africans over their suspected involvement in organizing illegal migration operations in the eastern city of Oujda, Moroccan police said in a statement.

The security services raided five houses as part of the fight against illegal migration, and found 75 migrants from different African nationalities, including 15 women, the statement added.

Investigations have shown that five of the arrested people were active in illegal migration and were preparing to transfer migrants to Europe for sums of money, the statement added.

Six other people were involved in the smuggling of alcohol and cannabis, it added.

The 75 migrants were illegally residing in Morocco and were candidates for illegal migration, said the statement, adding that they were subjected to the regulatory measures relating to the residence of foreigners in Morocco.

Morocco has become a hub for African migrants who seek to reach Europe for a better life. Thousands of migrants try to flee poverty and unrest in Africa each year via Morocco to Europe, either by land or by sea.