Police Break Up Asia-Latin America Human Trafficking Rings

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Authorities have dismantled two separate human trafficking rings in Ecuador and Brazil linked to South and East Asia, highlighting the flow of trafficking victims between the two continents.

Ecuadorean police arrested three Ecuadoreans and three Indians, who stand accused of transporting people from India and Sri Lanka to the port city of Guayaquil, from where they were taken to the United States via Central America. Among the suspects were two immigration officials, who police accuse of accepting money from the network in exchange for facilitating the migration process, reported El Comercio.

In Brazil, authorities discovered a network of Bangladeshis in the Federal District who lured in people from their home country under the false pretense of obtaining well-paid jobs. The victims paid up to $10,000 to traffickers to be taken Brazil, but once there they were forced to work under slave-like conditions.

According to police, the victims were taken first to Peru, Guyana, or Bolivia, from where they crossed the Brazilian border and requested refugee status by claiming they had been persecuted in Bangladesh.

InSight Crime Analysis

There have long been established human trafficking links between Latin America and East Asia, where over 20 percent of trafficking victims in the Americas come from, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2012 human trafficking report. In comparison, trafficking between South Asia and Latin America is far less common. According to the UNODC, less than one percent of South Asian trafficking victims ending up in South America and only 1.3 percent in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Ecuador is a prime human trafficking and human smuggling transit zone, with operations aided by lax immigration lawsGuayaquil in particular has emerged as a human trafficking hub.

In Brazil, forced labor is a major problem, and is estimated to affect up to 40,000 people. In 2012, nearly 3,000 people were rescued from slave labor. 

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