MADRID (AP) – Guards on the border of Ceuta, Spain’s enclave in North Africa, say they have recently detained one Moroccan suspected of attempting to smuggle migrants concealed in a suitcase and another suspected of hiding migrants in a car.
Custom agents 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 Dec. 30, said a spokesman for the Guardia Civil in Ceuta.
According to the spokesman, who spoke anonymously in accordance with the organization’s rules, 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 man 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, both from Guinea, were found when the vehicle was stopped for an inspection as it entered Ceuta. The 20-year-old man was found between the rear seats of the car and the trunk and the woman, 24, 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 craft unfit for open waters. Hundreds also risk their lives by climbing the 20-feet-tall (6-meter-tall) 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.