Authorities in Peru have identified seven human trafficking groups responsible for smuggling undocumented migrants through the country and into Brazil, highlighting how the emergence of new migration patterns leads to the development of new criminal networks.
Peru’s national police have revealed that there are three criminal groups dedicated to smuggling illegal migrants into the country from Ecuador and another four operating in the Madre de Dios region on the border with Brazil, reported El Comercio.
Most of the illegal migrants moving through the country come from Haiti and travel to the Dominican Republic by land before flying into Ecuador, which does not require Haitians to obtain a visa. From there, migrants hire smugglers to take them across the border into Peru.
Although smugglers often promise to transport migrants all the way to Brazil, many are abandoned along the way.
Between January 1 and June 18 this year, police detained 580 Haitian migrants in Peru, although according to official figures this number only represents ten percent of the Haitians who illegally entered the country during the same period, reported El Comercio. In total, Peruvian officials believe more than 12,000 Haitians have traveled through Peru to the Madre de Dios region since May 2011.
In addition to Haitians, substantial numbers of Senegalese and Nepalese migrants are also traveling across Peru on the way to Brazil.
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Haiti’s 2010 earthquake destroyed the country’s infrastructure and propelled thousands to seek better opportunities abroad, with over 15,000 migrating to other parts of Latin America between 2010 and 2012 alone, by some estimates.
Attracted by the country’s growing economic power, undocumented immigrants from countries such as Haiti have poured into Brazil, with over 5,000 entering the Amazon state of Acre — via Bolivia and Peru — in a period of just a few weeks in April 2013.
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Police investigations in Peru illustrate the criminal networks that have sprung up around migration routes through the country, charging between $100 and $200 a person to smuggle migrants across the border from Ecuador.
The migration route to Brazil also reflects the effects of economic changes on regional migration patterns, which were previously dominated by travel northward to the United States.
According to the US Department of Homeland Security, the number of undocumented immigrants entering the United States decreased significantly between 2005 and 2010, likely partly because of the country’s economic recession. Immigrants now appear to be turning towards other new economic powerhouses like Brazil, and human smuggling rings are springing up to meet the demand.