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Costa Rica busts migrant-trafficking ring

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San Jose: Costa Rican authorities have broke up a ring connected to an international network that smuggled migrants from Cuba, Asia and Africa willing to pay up to USD 30,000 each for a chance to make their way to the United States, officials said.

Twelve people were arrested in raids and near the Costa Rican capital San Jose and in the northwestern province of Guanacaste carried out in cooperation with Colombia and the US embassy, the government’s Public Ministry said yesterday.

Investigators found that the network demanded USD 7,000 to USD 15,000 for Cubans to be smuggled, and up to USD 30,000 for those from Asian and African countries, with most aiming for the US.

The route used ran from Colombia, through the Central American isthmus, on through Mexico and to the United States.

The Costa Rican cell was allegedly tasked with picking up the migrants at the southern border with Panama and taking them to San Jose for a stay of a few hours or a night before moving them to Guanacaste, on the border with Nicaragua, where they continued their travel north.

Prosecutors said the ring moved up to 17 people at a time and made two or three trips a day.

During yesterday’s operation, authorities said they found 14 Cubans about to cross over to Nicaragua, and 12 Nicaraguans who were aiming to be transported to San Jose. They were taken to a Public Ministry office in the northwestern city of Liberia for investigation.