Rising Migration Restrictions Are Driving African Refugees Into The Hands Of Latin American Smugglers

October 25, 2020

In 2016, Brazilian Federal Police uncovered a smuggling network operating between Brazil and South Africa that delivered fake visas to Africans seeking to travel through Latin America to the United States or Canada. The documents allowed migrants to enter Brazil, Bolivia or Venezuela without getting arrested.

Abdifatah Hussein Ahmed, a Brazil-based South African national ran the operation with two partners, and after a joint investigation with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ahmed was arrested in August 2019 for human trafficking.

Details of the smuggling enterprise were made public as part of a nine-month investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism and 16 media outlets from across the world, including The Museba Project, an independent investigative reporting organization covering Central Africa and the Great Lakes. The investigation exposed two top human smuggling organizations in Latin America and their global operations helping migrants from Asia and Africa seeking refuge in the US or Canada.

Europe’s crackdown on migration via the Mediterranean and reports of migrants being enslaved in Libya have spurred African migrants fleeing persecution, violence and economic hardship to take the long and convoluted route through Latin America to the US and Canada. They begin their 10,000-mile journey first by flying to Brazil (and previously Ecuador) because of its loose visa requirements and good flight connections. From Brazil, the migrants travel through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, before finally reaching the US.

To read the full story by Chidinma Irene Nwoye on Quartz Africa: Click Here