By Humphrey Carter

THE Guardia Civil yesterday arrested 22 illegal immigrants after they had slipped ashore near Cala Pi, in Lluchmajor.

The fishing smack, in which they had sailed across from Algeria, was spotted at 7.30am and a major operation was mounted by the Local Police and Guardia Civil which also brought in a helicopter to help comb the area.

Within an hour, 14 had been located and detained and the rest were caught during the day as a number of police units remained in the area searching for more possible immigrants who had already slipped ashore.

Police sources said last night that the operation is still open and further arrests could still be made over the coming days.
Guardia Civi sources explained yesterday that the illegal immigrants had held off the coast in the fishing boat and come ashore in groups aboard a small zodiac.

The seized fishing vessel was moved to the yacht club in Arenal and the 22 immigrants handed over to the National Police in Palma.
This morning, a Palma judge is expected to give the order for them to be transferred to an immigration holding centre on the mainland.
Once processed at the centre, they will eventually be deported to their country of origin. Security sources said yesterday that the unusually calm Autumn weather and sea conditions is probably what attracted them to make the dash for Majorca. All 22 are male and were said to be fit and healthy.


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