SANTIAGO – Chilean police dismantled a criminal ring that helped smuggle hundreds of children of Haitian migrants, sometimes without their parents, from Chile north to Mexico and the United States, Interpol said on Monday.
The transnational group orchestrated a complex, cross-border network that, according to the global police coordinating agency, smuggled an estimated 1,000 Haitian migrants out of Chile, including 267 Chilean children under the age of six, all of whom were born to Haitian migrants.
Some of the children, police said, were not traveling with their real parents, while others were found abandoned or their parents had died en route.
“It is appalling to imagine what these vulnerable children, some of whom are only a few years old, have suffered,” said Interpol General Secretary Jürgen Stock.
The harsh realities of migration in Latin America have recently come to the fore after thousands of Haitian migrants formed a major improvisation Border camp on the Mexican-American border. Some have been flown back to Haiti, others are waiting for their asylum applications to be negotiated in the United States, or are seeking refuge all over Latin America.
Many of the Haitian migrants initially settled in South American countries such as Chile and Brazil, where some said they had difficulty finding work and experienced racism. Protests in Chile against Venezuela Migrants who set up camps in town squares and even on beaches.
Her homeland, Haiti, the poorest country in America, is plagued by political crises and natural disasters.
The smuggling ring advertised its services to the Haitians through the WhatsApp intelligence service, Interpol said, and then helped clandestinely transport migrants from Chile to Peru, whereupon they set off on the journey north.
Chilean police arrested nine suspects involved in the operation, including four Chileans, two Venezuelans, one Peruvian, one Haitian and one Paraguayan.