An operation led by INTERPOL targeting international migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks has led to more than 200 arrests and the identification of some 3,500 irregular migrants in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Operation Turquesa II (November 27 – December 3) saw authorities in 32 countries* across multiple continents act on leads generated by national investigations before the operation, with support from INTERPOL’s program against the smuggling of migrants.
More than 50,000 checks against INTERPOL databases were made at air, land and sea borders as well as national hotspots throughout the one-week operation coordinated from Brazilian Federal Police headquarters in Brasilia, with round-the-clock support from INTERPOL’s Command and Coordination Center.
The operation also involved the INTERPOL Specialized Operational Network (ISON) against migrant smuggling, an international law enforcement network of specialists from immigration, customs and investigative units operating in source, transit and destination countries.
- Thanks to reinforced border controls, authorities in Panama arrested the subject of a Red Notice wanted internationally in connection with a murder in Mexico.
- INTERPOL notices generated during the operation include 18 Red Notices for internationally wanted suspects, 367 Blue Notices for persons of interest, 188 Yellow Notices for missing persons, and four Purple Notices on new criminal modus operandi.
- In Mexico, authorities arrested the alleged leader of a Mexican-based organized crime group smuggling migrants from the coast of Cuba using speed boats. Once in Mexico, the migrants were taken to a house, deprived of their liberty, threatened and tortured.
- Close to 100 potential victims of human trafficking were identified and rescued in Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Spain and Uruguay.
- More than 30 of the arrests were tied to the prevalence of sexual exploitation of female migrants and human trafficking victims.
Operation Turquesa II highlighted the growing concern that individuals who previously had a low risk of becoming victims of human trafficking have become vulnerable to this crime as a result of the pandemic and the increased desperation of at-risk individuals.
In Brazil, police action against organized crime groups such as Sonho Americano, Lei do Retorno and CaiCai III uncovered how migrants paid around $22,000 per person to travel from Brazil to the United States. A number of former and current local politicians are also being investigated for their potential role in such crimes.
*Participating countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam.