SANTIAGO – The Investigative Police (PDI) together with the Public Prosecutor announced this weekend the bust of the biggest human trafficking ring ever in Chile. Nearly 400 Chinese migrants were illegally smuggled in with help of local mayors and migration officials. How did this trafficking network operate?
After a six-month investigation, a trafficking ring was broken up that brought in Chinese migrants, after charging them US$ 5,000 per person. In 2016 and 2017, 381 Chinese were smuggled into the country.
Investigators told daily La Tercera that this was “the largest migrant trafficking ring that Chile has ever seen.” Chinese and Chilean people were arrested in Santiago, Los Andes and Antofagasta for their involvement in the network.
Among them is the former governor of Choapa province during the second administration of Michelle Bachelet, a former mayor of Los Andes and an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
More on human trafficking:
Traveling As Chinese Businesspeople
The trafficking network falsified tourist visa, and let the migrants enter as businesspeople on invitation of local authorities.
Apart from the 10 members of the trafficking ring, the PDI currently investigates three sitting mayors for their role in “inviting Chinese businesspeople” and granting them visa. The mayors of Los Andes, Cabildo and San Felipe – all in Valparaíso region – are under investigation.
They invited Chinese citizens to enter and settle in the country and had them pay for these letters.
The investigation indicated that from the group of 381, 110 are still in Chile with a visa for residents, while 33 others are awaiting the approval of their permanent visa.
The whereabouts of 60 others are unknown, as they have an irregular status while 178 crossed into Argentina after having obtained visas in the Argentine consulate of Antofagasta.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would do all it takes to tackle the problem of migrant trafficking.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.