BOGOTA – Colombian authorities broke up a band of eight people who specialized in smuggling migrants from the Middle East, to whom they supplied fake documents to enable them to remain in the country, judicial sources said.
The group was comprised of two Lebanese citizens, two members of the Colombian police, three public employees and a taxi driver, all of whom were arrested, according to the Attorney General’s Office although it did not provide their identities.
The arrest operations were carried out by the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Directorate, the Colombia Immigration agency and the AG’s office in the northern provinces of La Guajira and Atlantico, as well as in Valle del Cauca and Nariño in the southwest.
According to the evidence gathered in the investigation, the migrants, most of whom came from the Middle East, entered Colombia across the border with Ecuador and were then sent by air to the cities of Santa Marta or Barranquilla, on the Atlantic coast.
From there, they were taken by land to Maicao in La Guajira, where they waited until the traffickers provided them with forged documents with which they could remain in Colombia as citizens.
The AG’s office said the investigation showed “the complicity that existed with two officers of the National Police in Pasto (the capital of Nariño), with a Civil Service registrar in Luruaco (in Atlantico), an official with the Registry in Maicao and an official with the Registry in Barranquilla.”
The members of the group were charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, migrant trafficking, bribery and falsifying public documents.
Except for the Maicao Registry employee, who was placed under house arrest, the other arrested members of the group were thrown in jail and none of them admitted to the charges formulated by the AG’s office.