Police detain 123 illegal migrants in Spain's Canary islands

29.Jan.03,  first published by AFP: read the original article here.

Spanish authorities have detained 123 migrants and seven people-smugglers as they landed on the coast of the Canary Islands, police said Wednesday. Five boats carrying 105 migrants landed Wednesday on the island of Fuerteventura, which lies about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the African coast. All of the passengers were taken into custody. Three other migrants were stopped in the south of the island on Tuesday, while 15 were nabbed on the island of Lanzarote. Spanish authorities say the Canary Islands are gradually replacing the Strait of Gibraltar as the main conduit for those trafficking illegal migrants from Africa to Spain. More than 5,000 migrants have been apprehended in the Canary Islands since January 2002 -- 2,000 more than have been arrested in the Strait of Gibraltar. Madrid plans to turn a former army base in Fuerteventura into a detention centre with capacity for 1,200 people, to supplement an existing facility, which has space for 600 people. But local representatives accuse the government of seeking to convert their island into an offshore detention centre.