Hiding people in baskets to slide them by cable across a river was among tactics police recently discovered human smugglers have been using along the Panama border.
Immigration Police and Border Police set out to find “dead points,” or areas with no police surveillance used by coyotes, said Public Security Ministry spokeswoman Ingrid Luna.
They focused on the Southern Zone areas of San Jorge, Laurel, La Cuesta, Brujita, Pueblo Nuevo, Coto, La Gamba, La Unión de Limoncito, San Vito de Coto Brus, Kamakiri and Jabillo and several rivers, according to a statement from the ministry.
In La Gamba, they discovered a cable that had been strung from one side of a river to the other and was used to slide a basket across with people hiding inside.
They also discovered that a ferry crossing the river at La Balsa was being used to traffic illegal immigrants.
At a checkpoint set up at Kilometer 37, police arrested one Salvadoran, three Ecuadorians, one Cuban, three Nicaraguans, one Colombian and one Panamanian who lacked identification to prove they are in the country legally.
The Panamanian border has become a popular crossing point for people to enter Costa Rica illegally from many countries to the south, Luna said.
“The problem is that the border is very long and mountainous,” making it difficult for police to catch illegal activity, Luna said.
“We’re trying to combat human trafficking and also the trafficking of drugs and arms, which are very easy to get here from Panama.”