Human trafficking operation allegedly uncovered on livestock carrier

Livestock carrier Elita (IMO 7601073) arrived at Cartagena anchorage, Spain, from Libya on November 12th and was berthed on November 20th. The vessel was later detained by the Spanish Guardia Civil. Eight Syrians with fake papers, allegedly crew members, were arrested but then released. The Master remained in custody under suspicion of human trafficking, belonging to a criminal organization, violating the rights of foreign citizens, and falsifying official documents.

It was suspected that the eight Syrians onboard had been working under conditions of forced labour, and without the right training or documents.

Spanish police said that the Syrians had been working on the ship for several months under “exploitative labour conditions”. They said that many of the Syrians had paid up to €13,000 for a promised transfer to Europe, but were subsequently forced to work at sea.

“Collaboration between European agencies revealed that the aforementioned ship would have changed its name up to three times, making it difficult to track and monitor,” the Guardia Civil said.

Two individuals had previously been picked up by the police in the municipality of Mazarron, Spain, who had apparently been on the Elita, abandoning it while it was near the coastline.

1977-built, Guyana-flagged, 2,912 gt Elita is owned and managed by Karma Maritime Co SA of Istanbul, Turkey.