An X-ray image showing an 8-year-old sub-Saharan boy hidden in a suitcase on May 8, 2015, in Ceuta the Spanish enclave north of Morocco.
Spanish Guardia Civil/AFP/Getty Images
May 19, 2015 10:11 PM EDT

A lawyer for the father of an African boy caught being smuggled in a suitcase into a Spanish enclave said Tuesday his client wouldn’t have allowed his son to illegally cross the border had he known.

Ali Ouattara has been held in police custody since 8-year-old Abou was discovered on May 7 in a wheeled suitcase at the checkpoint in Ceuta, the New York Times reports. The lawyer, Juan Isidro Fernández Díaz, said Ouattara, who lives legally on the Spanish island of Fuerteventura, believed his son would enter using an Ivory Coast passport and visa for which he paid. But after learning that his application was denied because his salary fell short of the minimum mandated by Spanish law, he went to Casablanca to find an alternative.

“Do you think any father would really allow his son to travel in a suitcase?” Díaz said. He added that the boy was “just another victim of the mafias” running Africa’s human-trafficking networks.

The incident came as European nations struggle to deal with the influx of migrants and refugees attempting to reach its shores via the Mediterranean as warmer weather sets in. A new report revealed that the militant group ISIS makes a fortune in the smuggling business.

Read more at the New York Times.

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