Costa Rica and Panama break up migrant smuggling ring

Border Crime

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Costa Rica and Panama have arrested 46 people accused of 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 36 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.

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