A boat used during the recent wave of migrant arrivals. | Policia Nacional


Of the more than 300 migrants who arrived in the Balearics between December 25 and 28, five of them were arrested by the National Police on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration and belonging to a criminal organisation. Four of the five were ordered to prison after appearing before courts in Palma, Manacor and Ibiza; they are all Algerian.

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In total, 63 people were arrested for these offences last year; these were typically the 'skippers' of the boats. Those who go to trial face sentences of up to four years.

For the police, investigations are made difficult by what is often a rule of silence among migrants. This tends to be broken, however, when migrants have had bad experiences on what is anyway a hazardous journey from Algeria. The boats lack lifejackets, food and water, while risky refuelling is carried out. The migrants can pay the equivalent of 2,000 euros to make the journey.