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MIGRANT Nightmare People smugglers nabbed after hundreds of kids went through south American border posts

Police identified 267 Chilean children of Haitian immigrants aged six or under on the dangerous migration route through central America.

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Photo: Interpol

Photo: Interpol

Photo: Interpol

NINE members of a people smuggling ring have been arrested after a year-long Chilean police investigation sparked by a sudden increase of children at border crossings en-route to the United States.

The ring is suspected of smuggling an estimated 1,000 Haitian migrants from Chile, with Mexico or the United States being the final intended destination.

Police identified 267 Chilean children of Haitian immigrants aged six or under on the dangerous migration route through central America.

In some cases, it was confirmed that children were not travelling with their real parents and, in other instances, they had been abandoned or their parents had died en route.

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The investigation began in January 2020, as Chilean police began to receive reports of an abnormal flow of Chilean children of Haitian migrants crossing the border to Peru, according to Interpol.

“Chile contacted INTERPOL’s Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants unit, requesting that member countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean share any relevant information.

“The resulting data allowed Chilean investigators to compile a list of 185 minors smuggled through Central America by November 2020 – a list that has since grown to include 267 names.”

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The recent arrests took place on 29 September in the city of Arica, in northern Chile close to the Peruvian border.

Those detained include four Chileans, two Venezuelans, one Peruvian, one Haitian and one Paraguayan, all of whom will face charges of unlawful association and migrant smuggling.

The smugglers promoted their services through WhatsApp groups and were responsible for transporting the migrants across the Chile-Peru border, after which the migrants began the long land route to the US.

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“It is horrifying to think what these vulnerable children, some just a few years old, have suffered,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

“The diligence of the Chilean PDI in investigating and dismantling this network, with support from other involved countries via Interpol shows what law enforcement cooperation can achieve when information is shared.”

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