Spanish police detected an eight-year-old Ivorian boy hidden in a suitcase while he was being smuggled by a 19-year-old Moroccan woman into the North African Spanish enclave of Ceuta.
The boy, named Abou, was taken to a child custodian in Ceuta where he is waiting for authorities to decide what to do with him.
Spanish media said that the boy’s father, whose name was also Abou, is living in Spain’s Canary Islands but travelled back to the Ivory Coast where he paid the woman to reunite him with his son.
One of the spokesmen of the Civil Guard said when they opened the suitcase they found the boy in a terrible state. They said they had no idea how long the boy had been kept in the small suitcase.
"When they put the suitcase through the scanner, the operator noticed something strange, which seemed to be a person inside the case," he said.
"He was shocked when we opened the suitcase to see so many people looking at him, this is the first time we have found this type of smuggling."
Spanish police have arrested the father as well as the women who carried him.
A police officer said that they decided to check the suitcase for a possible drug smuggling case after they observed the carrier’s suspicious behaviour.
"She seemed to hesitate, and it looked as though she didn't want to come through the border. At first we thought that there could be drug packages, but gradually discovered that it was a human body," said the policeman.
African migrants often seek to enter mainland Spain through Morocco via the Ceuta and Melilla enclaves. Many of the migrants are caught by the police trying the climb over the fence, while many drown trying to enter the enclaves via the sea.
In 2005, Spain and Morocco decided to increase surveillance along the border to prevent deaths that occur as migrants attempt to enter.
The Spanish government has called on the European Union for help to reduce the number of immigrants to Melilla and Ceuta.
According to data from the Human Rights Watch,4,300 in 2013 tried to enter Ceuta and Melilla, up from 2,804 people in 2012.
Last year 100 migrants successfully entered Melilla when at least 400 migrants stormed the border fence.
Overall, around 14,000 migrants have tried to cross the border, with 2,000 of them making it into Melilla.
To date, approximately 6,500 migrants died trying to cross the border.