Border guards in the small Spanish enclave of Ceuta say they found a man curled up beneath the hood of a car, trying to enter the North African territory from neighbouring Morocco.
Agents with Spain’s Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) discovered the man in the hood and another stowed away behind the back seat Sunday afternoon after noting the driver of the vehicle was acting “nervous.”
After carrying out an inspection at the El Tarajal border crossing, the guards found the first man in the “fetal position” crammed into a specially designed compartment next to the engine of the car — which also had false registration.
The Guardia Civil shared a photo of the man on its official Twitter account.
Europa Press reported the man had “obvious symptoms of fatigue and lack of oxygen.” The second man, crammed into a false bottom behind the back seat was found “with similar symptoms.”
The guards arrested two Moroccan nationals in relation to the attempt to smuggle the men into the Spanish territory while representatives of the Red Cross tended to the two migrants — whom Europa Press reported were from Guinea.
A call from Global News to the Guardia Civil office in Ceuta was not answered.
The desperate attempts by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants trying to get to Europe have led to more than 2,400 deaths in the Mediterranean region so far this year, with at least 37 reportedly drowning off the coast of Libya over the weekend at least 117 dead after two boats capsized off Libya last Wednesday.
In a separate incident last week, the bodies of 71 people were found inside a truck abandoned along a stretch of highway in Austria.
Ceuta, and another Spanish enclave named Melilla, are both cities along the Mediterranean coast that are surrounded by Morocco on three sides. Both Morocco and Spain claim the territories, but they’re governed from Madrid — making them the only territories in Africa under the European Union.
Nearly four months ago, Guardia Civil officers at the same border crossing uncovered an 8-year-old boy from Ivory Coast stashed inside a suitcase.
Guardia Civil officers spotted a 19-year-old woman acting hesitant about passing through the border on May 7. At first, the guards thought she was trying to smuggle drugs in the small, pink suitcase.
The boy’s 42-year-old father, who lived in Spain’s Canary Islands, reportedly hoped to be reunited with the boy, named Adou Ouattara, and paid to have him transported across the border from Morocco.
Authorities detained the young woman and Adou’s father, accusing them of “crimes against the rights of foreign citizens,” while Adou was taken into the custody of child protection services. The Guardia Civil said Adou was in “a terrible state” and the situation “could have ended tragically.”
Adou was eventually reunited with his mother and father, who is a legal resident in the Canary Islands. According to the Ouattara family’s lawyer, the father didn’t know his son would be taken over the border in a suitcase. The Guardian reported he paid for a visa for Adou and believed he would be taken across the border by car.
As a legal resident of Spain, Ali Outtarra had successfully brought his wife and 11-year-old daughter to the Canary Islands, but he did not make enough money to get a residency permit for Adou, Agence-France Presse reported.
“He is a victim of migrant traffickers,” the Guardian reported lawyer Francesco Luca Caronna saying in June. “If he had known his son was to be brought in in a case he would never have allowed it.”
While Adou and the migrants the Guaradia Civil discovered in the car on Sunday survived their ordeals, a 27-year-old Moroccan man died inside a suitcase on Aug. 3, while attempting to get to mainland Spain from Melilla by ferry.
Agence France-Presse reported the man’s 34-year-old brother boarded the ferry legally, but with the suitcase hidden in the trunk of a car.
The older brother alerted the crew after finding his younger brother not breathing during the crossing. Attempts to revive the man at the port of Almeria were unsuccessful and police charged the older brother with involuntary manslaughter.
On Sunday, at least one person died after a rubber dinghy carrying thirteen migrants ran into trouble off Ceuta.