Archive for October, 2010

The smuggling routes of Colombia

October 27, 2010

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Wednesday, 10/27/10

 El Tiempo (Bogota, Colombia) 10/25/10

The American Dream makes a stopover in Colombia

Journalists from “El Tiempo” (believed to be Colombia’s largest newspaper) traced the main route used by illegal aliens in Colombia: using 27 clandestine routes through Colombia’s southwestern most department (state) of Narino, bordering on Ecuador, those aliens begin a trip of over 840 miles toward Uraba (on the border with Panama). African or Asian migrants are charged up to U.S. $1,500 to make that trip.

Two o’clock in the morning, near Turbo, a city on the east side of the Gulf of Uraba, the border between Colombia and Panama on the Caribbean, twenty-five persons fit themselves as much as they are able into a launch no longer than 7 meters long (22.9 feet) as it starts to leave the smelly port waters, with its engine almost turned off so as not to call attention. The launch slowly parallels the coast toward Choco (the Colombian state that land borders Panama). In the following four hours only two of them, the boat driver and his assistant, will be able to stand and stretch their legs. The other 23 have been ordered not to raise their head. They are illegal aliens who have crossed half of Colombia while hiding, and for whom the “American dream” seems to be a little closer. After a switch to another launch, they are taken into the jungle, and, following that, they begin a five day trek through the hill country of Darien toward Panama, the next stage on the traffic of humans en route to the United States. And in Choco, as in Africa, those aliens have no choice but to put their lives in the hands of the “coyotes” who, by then, will have stripped them of at least 15 thousand dollars to take them to the “promised land.” The “icing on the cake” (the crossing from Mexico to the U.S.) will cost them a similar amount.

Up until the end of last August, DAS, the Colombian immigration authority, had deported or expelled 607 of those illegal aliens, almost double the total for 2009. There have been 1,800 since 2007, from faraway lands such as China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Almost none speak Spanish, and the only thing they know is that if some official catches them and returns them to Ecuador, they will try again. Six Eritreans who were returned from Cauca (a Colombian city) to Ecuador on September 4th were again nabbed by DAS 13 days later, this time in another Colombian city.

The government of Ecuador, where Colombians must today enter with an annotated judicial record, decided in June of 2008 to allow citizens of any country in the world to enter without the need of a visa. Immediately, webs of traffickers who operate from the Arab Emirates and from Amsterdam took the opportunity to adjust their routes. Where, before, small groups of Africans would enter Colombia through the border with Brazil after a very hard, month long voyage across the Atlantic, hidden in cargo ships, now they started to show up by the dozens, coming from Quito. The arrival of Asians also shot up at the Mariscal Sucre Airport (Quito’s airport). The problem became such that two months ago Ecuador’s president decided to once again require visas for various African and Asian countries.

In Ecuador, the same groups who send rifle ammunition and explosives for the guerillas also traffic in illegal aliens. It’s a business that pays in the millions – the third most lucrative, after drug traffic and black market in weapons – that in Colombia ends up enriching the insurgent armed groups. Transit to Panama is controlled by Group # 57 of the FARC (Colombia’s revolutionary guerillas) and costs no less than 400 dollars. From the time they leave, the aliens keep their goal of arriving in the United States firmly in mind.

In the last two years, more Eritreans arrived in Colombia than had ever before been recorded. One hundred fifty have so far been detained this year from that African country at immigration control points. And thousands of Somalis travel by land to South Africa, and from there to Brazil and to Ecuador with false passports.

Last year, Bogota’s Superior Tribunal sentenced Yohannes Enefh Negussie to 5 years in jail for people smuggling. His network, according to DAS, was able to move 2,000 persons, almost all from Africa, in 3 years. One of the tactics used by Africans and Asians who are detained is to claim asylum, a right which would be amply justifiable given the conditions in their countries of origin. The problem is that the smugglers recommend that they do so only to avoid deportation back to Ecuador (the rule is to return those persons to the country from where they arrived) and then later to continue on the way to Panama.


Prensa Libre (Guatemala City, Guatemala) 10/25/10

Thousands of firearms seized in Guatemala this year

So far this year, Guatemalan security forces have seized more than 3,500 firearms that were being held illegally. A spokesman for the National Civil Police stated that the weapons include 2,066 pistols, 616 revolvers. 332 shotguns, 103 rifles, 47 AK47’s, fifteen M-16’s, 21 Galil rifles and ten AR15’s. Also, 26 sub-machineguns, 69 fragmentation grenades, 8 mortar grenades, 2 M79 grenade launchers, 9 carbines and 213 homemade weapons. The majority of the arms was said to have been in the hands or organized crime. According to Guatemala’s Dep’t. of Arms and Munitions Control there are 25,000 illegal firearms of various calibers around the country.


El Debate (Sinaloa) 10/26/10

More firearms seized

During the ten days from Oct. 14 to the 24th, Mexican army personnel confiscated 103 firearms and detained 23 persons in various areas of the state of Sinaloa. Included in the haul: 69 long barrel firearms, 34 handguns, 132 clips, and also 5,608 rounds of ammo, plus 6 grenades and 3 grenade launchers. Drug seizures included 46 tons of weed, 164 kgs. of weed seed and 28 kgs., of poppy and poppy seed. Some poppy and marihuana fields were also destroyed.


El Diario (Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua) 10/26/10

Some item headings from the “More local news” listing

  • Massacre leaves 11 orphans
  • Between fear and anguish
  • 10 dead yesterday
  • Another man murdered in town
  • Two human heads left on top of vehicle
  • Dead victim, wrapped in blankets, found in neighborhood


A cartoon depicting the spirit of Ciudad Juarez (from the editorial page)

If you were victim of an assault or extortion, press one….
Business burned down, press two…
Car stolen, press three…
Crime of passion, press four…
If you were decapitated, don’t lose your head; just count to ten, and tell whomever you trust the most…. Click!…. beep…beep…beep…beep


Acapulco area: 14 executions in the last three days

The struggle between rival cartels for area control and for placing the blame regarding the disappearance of 20 visitors from Michoacan has resulted in the execution of “at least” fourteen persons in the area around Acapulco in the last three days.


El Imparcial (Hermosillo, Sonora) 10/26/10

State of Sonora to place military on its border to prevent entry of Sinaloans

The Dep’t. of Public Security of the state of Sonora will reinforce its border with the neighboring state of Sinaloa to prevent incursions by criminal groups from that state, as has taken place recently. To do so, Sonora state officials will place mobile military bases that can be relocated along the mutual state border as needed.


Diario Rotativo (Queretaro, Qro.) 10/26/10

Town’s police force quits

The town of Los Ramones is some 36 miles east of Monterrey, state of Nuevo Leon, and has over 6,000 residents. Last night (Mon.) its police facility was fired at for about 15 minutes and at least two grenades were thrown against it. This morning, the town’s 14 policemen – its entire force – resigned.

(The photo below, from “La Jornada” (Mexico City), relates to this assault)


Frontera (Tijuana, Baja Calif.) 10/26/10

Violence in Tijuana

As of this past Monday the number of homicides in Tijuana this year reached 666 and has now surpassed the total for the entire year 2009. The majority of these events are related to drug traffic.


– end of report –

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