Human smugglers have tapped into a new market to meet the demand of illegal migrants looking to cross the Mediterranean at the Straight of Gibraltar, an 8-mile stretch of open water that separates North Africa and Europe.
Wealthy migrants looking to cross from Morocco to Spain have begun paying large sums of money to human smugglers to make the journey via jet ski. Radar has difficulty detecting the small watercraft making it challenging for law enforcement to stop the inflow of migrants or catch smugglers which have led to a growing trend.
Civil Guard forces told El Confidencial, "In recent weeks, the arrivals of Moroccans to the peninsula using jet skis have multiplied. These devices are used by criminal organizations dedicated to human trafficking that charge up to €10,000 euros per ticket."
While jet skis are too expensive for most illegal migrants to afford, they offer a relatively easy and quick way to cross the Mediterranean. Human smugglers often advertise the trips as being safe although the personal watercraft can be dangerous to operate in the open ocean due to how they work and changing variables like the number of occupants, the size of waves, and their speed.
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Spain is not the only European country struggling with a flood of illegal migrants. Hungary has apprehended more than 200,000 migrants this year while both Germany and Austria have reported increased numbers of immigrants as well.
With the war escalating in Ukraine, the number of illegal immigrants entering Western Europe is only expected to increase, and with human traffickers constantly finding new routes and new methods for transporting migrants, the associated risks are expected to rise as well.