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Interpol arrests 53 people in operation against migrant smuggling

November 14, 2019

Interpol made 53 arrests in a comprehensive operation against human trafficking across 20 countries and three continents that included air, land and sea checks, international police said Thursday.

During the so-called Operation Turquoise, carried out between Oct. 28-31, authorities in about 20 countries carried out almost one million border control checks, Interpol said in a statement released in El Salvador.

The controls sought to contain the actions of organized crime groups that use smuggling routes to the United States and Canada.

Many of the tracks followed for Operation Turquoise arose from a previous operation called Andes, carried out in 2018, which allowed Interpol to detect “a significant migratory flow” that began in South Asia.

The operation involved Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, as well as Canada, Bangladesh and Spain.

As part of the Operation Turquoise, in Brazil authorities dismantled a human trafficking network and arrested a 32-year-old man from Bangladesh who is believed to be “behind one of the largest migrant trafficking networks in the United States,” Interpol said.

The Brazilian authorities froze some 42 bank accounts of that network of human trafficking in which they detected transactions for about $10 million.

Interpol said that during Operation Turquoise, the detection of 775 migrants from 30 countries was achieved, and 1,300 international flights were monitored.

Interpol was also able to talk to victims of migrant trafficking networks.

In Mexico, undocumented migrants claimed to have been threatened with death or rape if they did not agree to pay the groups of smugglers.

In Spain, a Bangladeshi man reported that he had paid some 6,000 euros to migrant traffickers to take him to the European country, but it took him a year to reach Malaga, as he remained captive in Algeria and was threatened by his captors until his family paid for his release

Interpol reported arrests of members of migrant trafficking networks in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua and Argentina.

“Human trafficking is always present as criminal groups continue to take advantage of migrants to obtain substantial illegal profits,” Interpol Secretary General German Jürgen Stock said in the statement.

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