‘Chile Human Trafficking Rings Use Ecuador-Peru Routes’

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Officials have revealed details of new trends concerning human trafficking in Chile, as this otherwise relatively safe country’s strong economy continues to draw vulnerable immigrants into exploitation.

Since the introduction of anti-trafficking legislation in 2011, trafficking rings have adopted new tactics, according to officials cited by newspaper La Tercera.

A police analysis showed that one of the principal routes involved bringing people in through northern Chile on tourist visas. Victims typically pass through Ecuador, then Peruvian capital Lima, before entering Chile, with trafficking rings typically charging between $1,000 to $3,000 per person. Chile’s Assistant Secretary of the Interior Rodrigo Ubilla said nearly all routes passed first through Peru, even if the victims originated from places such as the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

According to Mauricio Fernandez, the director of Chile’s money laundering unit, Chile’s economic stability makes the country attractive to potential immigrants, who because of their vulnerable situation often end up as victims of human trafficking schemes. Fernandez said that, as with other human trafficking networks in the region, “coyotes” are paid to transport the illegal immigrants. The Chilean-based coyotes typically operate in airports, as well as the northern border region. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Human trafficking networks in Latin America involve a significant number of victims from outside the western hemisphere, including East Asia, according to the United Nations’ 2012 report on global human trafficking. La Tercera’s report highlighted this reality, pointing out that recent cases of human trafficking in Chile have involved Pakistani and Chinese immigrants. East Asian and South American trafficking rings have also recently been dismantled in Brazil and Ecuador. 

Nevertheless, the majority of human trafficking within Latin America is intraregional. It is unsurprising therefore that Chile’s most popular trafficking flows move first through Ecuador and Peru, as Ecuador is considered an attractive transit nation, due in part to its loose immigration controls, while Peru has also struggled to contain the problem. 

Chile is rarely considered an important hub in the trade, although the US State Departmant has stated that the country “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” although it is making “a significant effort” to change this. 

Chile’s good economic standing makes the prospect of working there appealing for trafficking victims, who are typically lured by false advertisements of well-paying jobs in a new country and duped into paying high fees to traffickers, only to be stripped of their freedom and documents upon arrival.

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