Brazil busts human trafficking ring

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rio de Janeiro, Nov 19 (IANS/EFE) Twelve people were arrested in Brazil Thursday in an operation against a gang accused of smuggling people into the US and then holding them to extract ransom from their families back in Brazil, authorities said.

The gang charged emigrants up to $15,000 each for false documents to enter the US, Brazil’s Federal Police said in a statement.

The US Consulate in Rio de Janeiro provided support for the police operation.

Ten of the 12 arrests were carried out in Governador Valadares, a city in Minas Gerais state that has sent a large number of emigrants to the US.

The investigation leading to Thursday’s arrests began in July, when the police arrested a man, identified only as J.C., on charges of forging passports and travel documents.

J.C. coordinated the emigrants’ travel from Brazil and their subsequent abduction once they reached the US, according to investigators.

“They left from Brazil and went initially to Guatemala, from where J.C.’s coyotes (migrant smugglers) guided the clients across Mexico to the border with the United States border,” the US Consulate in Rio said in a Portuguese-language press release.

In some cases, the coyotes abducted the migrants in Texas and contacted their families in Brazil with demands for additional payments of up to $10,000, the consulate said.

The captive migrants were often tortured and threatened with mutilation.


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