Q COSTA RICA – The Policía de Migración (Costa Rican Immigration Police) struck a major blow to a human trafficking ring after capturing four members of an organization that was dedicated to moving Cubans through Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico to the final destination, United States.
With the help of an immigration official in Costa Rica, the gang provided the migrants lodging and fake documents for their travel by air from Cuba. The migrants were charged US$16,000 for the trip.
Among the arrested are three Cuban nationals and one Costa Rican, the latter an official of the immigration service, identified by his last name Rodriguez Mora, who worked at the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) international airport.
Andrea Quesada, a spokesperson for the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME) – Costa Rica’s immigration service, confirmed the official’s involvement and detention, who was working with the gang led by a man identified as Gallard Muñoz, known as “Zurdo”. Two women said to be part of the gang were also arrested. The women were identified as Gallard Alemanres and Barnet Ardugin; the first, Zurdo’s daughter, the other his wife’.
All three are Cubans were naturalized in Costa Rica.
Gallard and his wife were remanded to three months preventive dentetion; meanwhile the daughter was set free on the condition she not leave the country.
According to the immigration police spokesperson, the participation of the immigration official in Costa Rica was crucial.
The immigration police statement said the trafficking started in Cuba, where contact was made with the migrants, who were sent to Ecuador, through Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico, traveling with fraudulent documentation.
“The immigration officer took advantage of his position to facilitate the coordination of their (the migrants) entry into the country,” said the statement.
On May 10, three simultaneous raids on homes in Moravia, Tibas and Alajuela resulted in the detention of the four.
Apparently, between 2015 and 2016 the organization developed a route for the illegal transit of Cuban migrants. In Costa Rica is where they obtained false passports to travel to Mexico by plane.
This was all before Ecuador required Cubans a visa to travel to their country, a time when a massive number of Cuban migrants landed on Costa Rica’s door, causing a crisis when Nicaragua closed its borders to all migrants and required the government to seek a diplomatic solution within the region. Thousands of Cuban migrants were stranded in Costa Rica between starting in October 2015.
“We strengthen the anti-corruption struggle within the institution, demonstrating that corrupt acts will not be tolerated or that they will jeopardize the country’s humanitarian vision,” warned Costa Rican Gisela Yockchen, The Director General of Migracion.
However, the day following the arrest by his co-workers in the immigration police, the Juzgado Penal de Alajuela (Alajuela Court) denied the prosecutor’s request for preventive detention, the Court prohibiting Rodriguez Mora from leaving the country while the legal process continues and to be suspended from his official function. It will be up to the immigration service if his suspension is without pay.