Portugal arrests 35 people on suspicion of trafficking migrant workers

Portugal arrests 35 people on suspicion of trafficking migrant workers

Police in Portugal have arrested 35 people in a large operation against a suspected human smuggling ring.

The suspects -- aged between 22 and 58 -- were allegedly part of a criminal gang that exploited migrant workers on Portuguese farms.

Officers carried out 65 raids on Wednesday morning across the southern Alentejo region, according to a statement.

"The suspects are part of a criminal structure dedicated to exploiting immigrant workers, most of whom were lured from their countries of origin ... to work on farms in the region," police said.

They were all arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, money laundering, and document forgery.

Dozens of victims of the trafficking ring have been identified from Algeria, India, Moldova, Morocco, Pakistan, Romania, and Senegal.

Around 400 Portuguese police officers were involved in the raids on Wednesday morning.

According to the Council of Europe, Portugal identified at least 1,152 victims of human smuggling rings between 2016 and 2020.