Law enforcement officials detained two persons Tuesday as their part of participating in a major human trafficking sweeps that included Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Panamá.
In Honduras four immigration officers were detained by police there, but in Costa Rica the two persons arrested were living in less than luxury surroundings. One was identified by the last name of Arce Martínez. His home in Peñas Blancas de La Cruz, Guanacaste, is near a house where investigators rounded up trafficking suspects last year.
Some illegal migrants also were found at this location Tuesday. The house and outbuildings conveniently are near the Nicaraguan border.
The second raid was in Rio Claro de Golfito near the southern border. A man with the last name of Santos Vargas was detained there.
Police in other countries detained 23 more persons. Investigators reported that the ring was directed from Abu Dhabi, the capitol of the United Arab Emirates.
The nation’s chief prosecutor, Jorge Chavarria, held a press conference to outline the case. Reporters were told that the ring flew migrants to Uruguay and Brazil and then brought them over land through South America and into Panamá and Costa Rica on the way to the United States. Assistance was provided by the United States and México, a statement said.
The ring moved many nationalities and was said to be involved in Asian migrants, too. Each paid from $7,000 to $25,000 for the trip, said investigators.
The Policía Profesional de Migración and the human trafficking prosecutors were involved in the raids Tuesday. They linked them to a case last Dec. 30 when 51 illegal immigrants were found in a cattle truck in Río Claro and a case in the central Pacific Feb. 25 when 15 illegal immigrants were picked up. They said that six of those arrested for organizing the trips were related to the same ring that generated the two arrests Tuesday.
Officials claimed that they have been investigating the ring for eight months.
At the home in Peñas Blancas, investigators found identity cards and other documents that may be fake.
Costa Rica has been overrun by illegal immigrants, although the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería legalizes them by giving them 15-day permits. There is a tent camp with about 200 Africans not far from where the raid took place Tuesday at the northern border.
A.M. Costa Rica also has documented how a group of 40 or more Africans managed to travel with the help of locals up the Caribbean coast and walked into Nicaragua. They spent the night in Barra del Colorado, and police never responded to multiple telephone calls about their presence.
Even with the help of human traffickers, migrants have to make arrangements with border officials to enter the country. There have been several arrests of individuals who are accused of defrauding migrants by offering services that were not delivered.
When Costa Rican officials broke up a ring that smuggled Cubans through the country last year, they suddenly were flooded with more than 8,000 illegals who were seeking to make their way to the United States. The central government then became, in effect, a human trafficker, by arranging an air bridge to carry the migrants north to El Salvador and Guatemala. Many have since reached the United States where they were welcomed legally.
U.S. news outlets are reporting a surge in Chinese migrants seeking a better life in the United States by illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.
Wire service reports say that the San Diego Union-Tribune broke the story earlier this month, saying it obtained U.S. Customs and Border Protection data showing the agency caught 663 Chinese nationals making the illegal crossing from Mexico into San Diego, California, from last October through May. Only 48 were caught in the previous 12 months, it said.
The San Diego Union-Tribune quoted a U.S. border patrol spokeswoman as saying smugglers who organize the crossings charge Chinese migrants $50,000 to $70,000 a person, said the wire report. That would suggest that smuggling Asians is far more lucrative than smuggling Africans.