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Boat with 54 African would-be immigrants runs aground at Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast

September 11, 2009

Costa Rican law enforcement intercepted a boat Saturday carrying 54 Africans and three crew members suspected of human trafficking off the country´s Caribbean coast.

A Public Security Ministry spokesman said the boat was in poor condition and the passengers had gone several days without food or water.

The authorities believe most of the 54 passengers, seven of whom are women, are from Eritrea – a north African country sandwiched by the Red Sea, Sudan and Ethiopia – and nearby Somalia (see map).

Police believe the group could have been abandoned at sea by an international human trafficking organization, which could charge as much as $7,000 to transport them possibly to the United States. Three Colombian crew members were detained on suspicion of engaging in illegal human trafficking.

It´s not the first group of African would-be immigrants to arrive. Before this group arrived, more than 30 people from countries such as Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Africa were already waiting in Costa Rica´s immigrant holding center in Hatillo, south of San José.

See related story:
In C.R., Stranded Refugees Look for Freedom
TT, Aug. 14

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