Abdelouahad EH arrived from Morocco in November 2007. In León, Mohamed Chahidi, a neighbor of his who was doing the Americas in Spain as a cattleman, was waiting for him. But his success came not from sheep and chickens, but from the lucrative business of deceiving desperate compatriots. Upon meeting, Chahidi, head of a plot in which, according to the prosecution, at least 17 other people were in league, the majority Galician cattlemen, demanded 10,500 euros. That was the price he had previously set to provide you with the residence permit.
He had obtained it at the Lugo Immigration Office, where according to the prosecution he had “contacts” and where “from the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2008” he obtained 48 authorizations of the 60 that he presented personally. In addition, the entrepreneur He announced to his victim that he would not register him with Social Security if he did not pay him another 4,500. Later, Chahidi and his supposed Spanish partner, the agricultural businessman Carlos Otero, took Abdelouahad to the town of Cabañas Raras (Ponferrada, León). And they put him to herd a flock of lambs without paying him anything in return and without registering him.
There he coincided with Said O. Both lived in a room without a bed, without light, without running water, without food and without the least possibility of hygiene, with working hours of more than 12 hours. Lugo’s chief prosecutor, Roberto Brezmes, describes this situation as “semi-slavery” and assures that the exploited came to spend “several days without eating anything.” They were in the bones, trapped by ignorance and fear in Rare Cabins; if they managed to survive, says the representative of the public ministry, it was because of the help of “some neighbors.”
Said’s family in Morocco had also done their best to pay the 10,500 euros demanded by this still alleged mafia in exchange for a residence permit for the young man. Two younger brothers of Chahidi left him abandoned in the Leonese town and the plot completely ignored him. Until he was found at the end of March 2008 “with an abnormally low body mass index” and what was dubbed Operation Chicken rushed. In a short space of time, a series of coincidences revealed the activities of the network and proceedings were opened in Ponferrada and Lugo. The Court of Instruction 3 of the Galician city, then directed by Estela San José, stayed with the investigation and came to add more than 50 defendants (including a head of Immigration from the Ministry of Labor). When the magistrate left, she inherited the case Sergio Orduña, and throughout 13 years the investigation has run aground several times.
La Pollo inaugurated a decade of judicial macro-operations in a small, and apparently peaceful, provincial capital like Lugo in which everyone who had something to hide began to speak in code on the phone for fear of punctures. But it was buried by the media avalanche caused, among others, by the Carioca, the Pokémon, the Champion, the Condor or the Octopus, with political implications and other types of victims. Now, almost forgotten by the delays and the change of judge, the case (with its fifty volumes and the supposed implications of Immigration evaporated) leads skinny and limping on the road to the Lugo Hearing for a trial that has yet to be dated. In the time that has elapsed, one of the accused ranchers has already died.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor has taken up accounts and is asking for 150 years in prison (and 700,000 euros in compensation) for the alleged members of this machinery that was greased with the tens of thousands of euros paid by the families of the immigrants, selling all of them. your assets in Morocco. It is suspected that Chahidi began to enrich himself with this activity in 2006 and that there were many more victims, but 27 cases of people originating from Beni Mellal or Casablanca come to trial who rummaged under the stones to collect the dirhams that the alleged fraudster demanded of them. , a variable amount of between 8,000 and 15,000 euros.
The head of the organized group, who served provisional prison from May 2008 to October 2009, has been missing for years, although according to the lawyer for another of the accused, several of his victims claim that he is in Morocco. In March 2015, his search was decreed without results, and now the Superior Court of Galicia explains that the location of this 50-year-old man will not be ordered again until he has to be notified of the time of the trial. The prosecutor demands for him a punishment of 44 years behind bars, and for his Galician partner, almost 20.
The other livestock entrepreneurs were necessary to give the appearance of legality to the residency applications. The indictment explains that it would have been “suspicious” for Chahidi, head of Berciana Agrícola, SL, to sign dozens of job applications for the loading and unloading of chickens by himself. This, despite his visits to an alleged official of the Government Subdelegation whom he refers to in the wiretaps as The bird. Chahidi “enriched himself” on account of his compatriots, sums up Lugo’s chief prosecutor, “abusing the situation they were in and the expectation of substantial improvement that our country could offer them.”
Patera flat in Lugo
Upon arriving here, they were assigned to the “most arduous work” of the farms for “minimum” wages of 300 euros, “with hours much higher than the legal [hasta 16 horas], the seven days of the week”. Some, for this, did not charge anything. Others were told that there was no work. It was not his manpower that was of interest, but his initial payment for the visa. For every false job offer they presented, Brezmes calculates, construction, hospitality or livestock entrepreneurs (from beef to poultry) could take a thousand euros. Most of the victims were men, but there were also women. And while some ended up in Rare Cabins, others were hidden in a flat small boat at number 48 Armando Durán street, a few meters from the Lugo courts.
The crimes at stake are those of labor exploitation, against the rights of foreign citizens and continued fraud. In the evenings, those who worked for the Chahidi companies were taken by van to the farms by the leader’s brothers, Abdelghani and Abdelkarime, to unload fattened chickens “until well into the next morning.” Sometimes they “lacked gloves and masks”: they were “denied the most basic means to carry out their work under minimal hygiene and sanitation conditions.” The prosecutor says that they came to “work barefoot.”
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