HomeNewsBriefCosta Rica and Panama Find Joint Success in Tackling People Smuggling
BRIEF

Costa Rica and Panama Find Joint Success in Tackling People Smuggling

COSTA RICA / 9 AUG 2019 BY ALEX PAPADOVASSILAKIS EN

Authorities in Panama and Costa Rica have dismantled an international human smuggling ring, highlighting the success of police cooperation in both countries’ fight against established smuggling networks.

On July 30, Costa Rican authorities carried out 36 raids along the country’s borders with Panama and Nicaragua, arresting 40 suspected members of the smuggling network, Reuters reported. At the same time, Panama federal police raided 21 locations throughout the country, arresting another 12 people.

SEE ALSO: Costa Rica News and Profiles

The network moved migrants — bound for the United States — from various Asian and African countries. Migrants from Cuba and Haiti were also among those smuggled.

Investigations into the smuggling ring, which reportedly charged migrants $1,500 to pass through Panama, began in 2018, according to a news release from Panama’s Attorney General’s Office.

The crackdown was one of Costa Rica’s largest operations against a human smuggling network, according to Reuters.

InSight Crime Analysis

Authorities across Central America must collaborate in their efforts to take down people-smuggling rings, which rely on networks of individuals in different countries.

Criminal actors involved in human smuggling have long exploited Central America, which acts as a bridge to the United States. Smugglers also have had success evading authorities in the region, as many of the countries have porous borders and inadequate migration controls.

Panama is a hotspot for Cuban migrant smuggling. For example, the traffickers involved in the dismantled ring entered the country on a tourist visa.

But Panama and Costa Rica have shown that the two countries are prepared to work together to combat people smuggling.

SEE ALSO: Panama News and Profiles

In September 2018, Costa Rican and Panamanian authorities arrested 39 people involved in the smuggling of Chinese migrants. The network, run by three Chinese nationals in Costa Rica, had a chain of contacts in Asia, Europe and South America. It could also count on corrupt Costa Rican migration officials who falsified documents for the Chinese migrants upon their entry into the country. The migrants arrived in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru or Ecuador, from which they then travelled to the Central American country.

Smuggled Chinese migrants are often subjected to forced labor practices, where they are paid a pittance to pay off costs for their transportation, housing and entrance into the country. Migrant women have also become sex trafficking victims after recruitment by criminal groups in China, or in countries in Africa and Latin America.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

BRAZIL / 11 NOV 2019

Female members of a cell of Brazil’s violent PCC prison gang ordered and carried out the killing of another woman,…

BARRIO 18 / 5 SEP 2013

A study of gender roles in Central America's "maras" sheds light on the dual role of women, who are simultaneously…

CARIBBEAN / 21 JAN 2019

Increased pirate attacks in the waters between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela show that criminal gangs in the Venezuelan state…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…