By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
ALARM bells were ringing yesterday after another fifteen illegal immigrants were caught coming ashore in Santanyi yesterday morning.
This is the second confirmed vessel to have slipped past the maritime traffic radars this week, police are still investigating a possible third, and the alarm was raised yesterday by a local resident who reported a suspicious group of people to the Guardia Civil.

The fifteen were gradually arrested during the morning, the final two, elderly Algerians, were detained in Ses Salines cemetery and last night the search of the area continued.

The seven-metre motor launch they had used to sail from Algeria to Majorca, a distance of 300 kilometres, was found abandoned by an air sea rescue service vessel at 7am.

The launch was in such poor condition that it nearly sank while being towed into port.
Santanyi Local Police yesterday expressed their concern about the sudden flood of illegal immigrants into their patch this week. Sources fore the local force said that they were “problems understanding” why the radars failed to detect the vessels and intercept the immigrants at sea.

The local police are convinced that an old smuggling route is being used between Algeria and Majorca and they are suspicious about the fact many of the immigrants arrive with mobile phones and appear to know where they have come to and what they have to do. One Local Police officer explained yesterday that the sea between Algeria and Majorca is traditionally calm during the second half of January and the force is bracing itself for the arrival of even more over the coming weeks and both the Local Police and the Guardia Civil have stepped up patrols in the area.

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