Spanish police rescue 21 ‘exploited’ migrant workers from warehouse

BBC.com – Spanish police say they have rescued 21 migrants who were being forced to work long hours in poor conditions at a second-hand clothing warehouse.

Video showed several people being freed from a secret room hidden behind heavy trolleys piled high with clothes.

A father and two sons who ran the business in the south-eastern province of Murcia have been arrested.

Police said the business sourced and distributed clothing to African countries for sale.

In a statement (in Spanish), authorities said the migrants had been forced to work long days in poor conditions and were paid only two euros (£1.80; $2.40) per hour.

When officers raided the business in Fuente Álamo, the manager began to shout at his workers to run and hide, the statement said.

Four of them jumped an outer fence while others locked themselves in the warehouse. When officers gained entry they found eight workers had been placed inside a “den” that was hidden behind heavy trolleys full of clothing.

They said the secret room had been built to hide people in the event of police intervention.

“The detainees recruited foreign citizens in an irregular situation to force them to work without any legal guarantee during long hours,” police said.

“They took advantage of their vulnerability, and their situation of need, to subject them to harsh working conditions.”

The statement said there was a “total absence of occupational safety and hygiene measures” at the warehouse.

The three arrested are due to appear before a court in Cartagena.