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Spain: Growers arrested for scamming migrant workers

On May 25, the National Police arrested two businessmen from the berry sector in the town of Palos de la Frontera (Huelva), who have been charged with crimes against the rights of foreign citizens, fraud, and coercion.

The entrepreneurs, the administrators of two mercantile companies, employed and welcomed irregular migrant workers on their farms for several years without registering them or paying their social insurance. They took advantage of their state of need, as they lacked economic support or a way to achieve it - given their irregular status - to force them to work under the conditions they imposed on them.

After having stayed in the country for a required period of time and meeting several requirements, the foreigners could request the regularization of their situations. One of these requirements is having a pre-employment contract, which the employers provided to them in exchange for 5,000 euro.

Cheap Labour Force
According to the victims, the Moroccan community in the area in need of a home, employment, and regularization knew of the entrepreneurs' practices, so they would go to them according to their needs. For years, the entrepreneurs assured themselves with enough victims for their contract sales and cheap labor, prepared to work under the conditions they imposed on them.

Investigations have shown that the detainees operated with absolute disregard for the employees. Authorities were able to verify that one of the victims suffered from a terminal illness in an advanced stage and that they kept her working under the same conditions as the others, falsely promising to help her with her regularization at the end of the campaign. Then, once her services were no longer essential for them, they even evicted her from the accommodation that had been provided to her during the campaign, leaving her in a situation of total helplessness.

These businessmen had been exploiting people year after year and had sold at least twenty contracts but authorities only obtained the necessary evidence to charge them after one of the victims - who was employed by the entrepreneurs for more than half a year with the sole objective of covering the price of their pre-contract and was fired and cheated out of their 5,000 euro and contract - decided to collaborate with authorities.

The entrepreneurs had even threatened to denounce this person's undocumented status to authorities when they expressed their intention to report them to the State Security Forces.


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