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Costa Rica and Panama break up migrant smuggling ring

Posted at 12:03 PM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 17:10:13-04

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Costa Rica and Panama have arrested 48 people for allegedly operating a migrant smuggling ring that moved Asian, African, Cuban and Haitian migrants from South America toward the United States.

Authorities say the ring operated at Costa Rica’s southern and northern borders. It moved migrants overland on public transportation through Costa Rica and then by boat to Honduras, bypassing Nicaragua.

Costa Rica’s immigration authorities announced 38 arrests Tuesday. They said leaders at Costa Rica’s borders were women, including one known as “Mama Africa.”

They said the migrants entered South America through airports in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador or Peru and paid between $7,000 and $20,000 to be smuggled to the United States.

The U.S. government has been pressuring Central American countries to crackdown on immigration through their countries.