Ceuta border guards find migrant hidden in suitcase

Ceuta border guards find migrant hidden in suitcase

Border guards in Ceuta detained a Moroccan suspected of attempting to smuggle migrants concealed in a suitcase and another suspected of hiding migrants in a car.

Guardia Civil officiers 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 December 30, said a spokesman for the Guardia Civil.

The spokesman said 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 teenager curled up in the poorly ventilated space. Police said the man received immediate medical attention.

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In this photo released by the Spanish Guardia Civil on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, a 19 year-old migrant from Gabon is photographed in a suitcase, in Ceuta, Spain. Border guards have recently detained two Moroccans for attempting to smuggle migrants concealed in a suitcase and in a car as they crossed the border into Ceuta, Spain’s enclave in North Africa. Custom officials 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 December 30, said a spokesman with the Guardia Civil in Ceuta. (AP Photo/Spanish Interior Ministry, via AP)

In this photo released by the Spanish Guardia Civil on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, a 19 year-old migrant from Gabon is photographed in a suitcase, in Ceuta, Spain. Border guards have recently detained two Moroccans for attempting to smuggle migrants concealed in a suitcase and in a car as they crossed the border into Ceuta, Spain’s enclave in North Africa. Custom officials 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 December 30, said a spokesman with the Guardia Civil in Ceuta. (Spanish Interior Ministry)

On Monday, border police found two more migrants hidden in false compartments built into a car arriving from Morocco.

The migrants, from Guinea, were found when the vehicle was stopped for an inspection as it entered Ceuta. A 20-year-old man was found between the rear seats of the car and the boot, and a woman, 24, was 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 boats unfit for open waters. Hundreds also risk their lives by climbing the 20ft 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.

Dozens of migrants made it to the top of the six-metre barbed wire fence early on Sunday before being lifted down by cranes, footage from local TV station Faro TV showed.

Only two were allowed into Ceuta to be taken to hospital while the rest were returned to Morocco, the Spanish government said in a statement.

Five Spanish police and 50 from Morocco were injured, the government added, after migrants used rocks and metal bars to try and break through gates to access the fence and clashed with authorities.

Morocco’s interior ministry reported that some 800 migrants had tried to storm the enclave, and that all had been arrested. It said 10 members of its security forces were seriously wounded.

“From now on those making such attempts will be presented before the competent judicial authorities who will decree their expulsion from the kingdom (of Morocco) or heavier penalties, according the gravity of the act,” the Moroccan ministry said in a statement.

Spain has drawn criticism from human rights groups for allowing some migrants to be immediately turned back to Morocco in such incidents. They argue that skipping the lengthier deportation procedures deprives people of the opportunity to claim asylum.

In early December more than 400 sub-Saharan African migrants managed to force their way over the Ceuta border fence.

However, Libya has become a more common departure point for African migrants, most of whom come from sub-Saharan countries and attempt the crossing to Italy by boat.

Last year was the deadliest year ever for migrants in the Mediterranean, with almost 5,000 deaths, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Separately on Sunday, Spanish police said a Moroccan woman was arrested in Ceuta last week for trying to smuggle a 19-year-old migrant from Gabon across the border with Spain curled up inside a suitcase.

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