HomeNewsAnalysisBin Laden's Cousin Arrested in Ecuador?
ANALYSIS

Bin Laden's Cousin Arrested in Ecuador?

COLOMBIA / 5 MAY 2011 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

The arrest of an alleged cousin of Osama bin Laden, accused of running a human trafficking ring in Ecuador, is another sign of how lax visa policies have fed the growth of such smuggling networks.

Besides claims in Ecuadorean and Colombian media, there is little evidence that Eritrean national Yaee Dawit Tadese, alias "Jack Flora," is indeed part of the extended bin Laden family.

Tadese was reportedly arrested March 10 during a raid in Quito, in a joint operation by Ecuadorean police and Colombia's elite anti-kidnapping squad, known as GAULA.

According to Guayaquil-based newspaper El Universal, the arrest of Tadese and 66 other nationals from Asia, Africa and the Middle East was part of an investigation into a human smuggling ring. Tadese was reportedly deported to the U.S. on March 12, as he was wanted by Interpol on terrorism, drug and human trafficking charges.

Colombian police told El Tiempo that Tadese managed a network that trafficked migrants from Africa, using two popular routes running from Somalia to either Ecuador or Venezuela.

Regardless of Tadese's alleged family ties, the arrest is a reminder of how much human trafficking has expanded in Ecuador since 2008. That was the year that Ecuador waived visa requirements for almost every country in the world, allowing visitors to enter the country and automatically gain a 90-day pass.

As a result, Ecuador has seen the growth of Colombian, Russian and Chinese organized crime groups operating within its borders. This includes smugglers moving human cargo from Ecuador to Central America, then onwards to the United States. As noted by El Comercio, migration police have seen an explosion of African and Asian nationals moving through the country, with 156 reported arrivals from South Africa during the first quarter of 2011.

A 2009 report by the International Assessment and Strategy Center found that Ecuador's lax visa policies may have also increased the smuggling of Asian and African migrants from the Andean nation to the U.S. The report quotes one unnamed U.S. official who maintains that, "In every major case of non?Mexican and non?Central American illegal immigrants entering the United States in the past year the migrants have transited Ecuador."

In August 2010, concerns about human trafficking arose after an Ecuadorean citizen was one of two survivors of the brutal slaughter of 72 migrants by the Zetas in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Shortly afterwards, Ecuador created visa requirements for nine countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia.

Migration from these countries saw huge boosts after Ecuador suspended visa requirements in 2008. Ecuador registered only 11 migrants from Bangladesh in 2007, which soared to close to 300 visitors in 2010, according to migration police.

The pegging of Yaee Dawit Tadese as a member of the bin Laden family also speaks to a concern sometimes voice by analysts and political commentators: that Asian and Middle Eastern terrorist networks are using Latin America as a refuge. While Hezbollah activity at the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay has been well documented, there otherwise have been no reported cases of groups like al-Qaida succesfully using Latin America as an entry point into the United States.

That Tadese was reportedly deported to U.S. on terrorism charges, along with four other men of Pakistani origin, will likely do much to feed these concerns.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

FENTANYL / 28 SEP 2022

Migrant encounters and seizures of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl are often erroneously conflated and linked together.

CARIBBEAN / 4 JUL 2022

On June 28, the Cuban Interior Ministry announced that at least two clashes between speedboat crews coming from the United…

ECUADOR / 9 JUN 2022

Ecuador's two leading drug gangs are talking the talk when it comes to peace, but walking the walk may be…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…