Following the detention last Friday of nine undocumented migrants on the central Pacific coast, Costa Rica’s National Police carried out an additional operation Monday in the community of Paso Canoas, along the country’s border with Panama. There, police detained 27 additional undocumented migrants, all from Nepal.
National Police Regional Director José Domingo Cruz said an anonymous tip led police to local rental cabinas, where the group was staying.
Last Friday, police discovered seven undocumented migrants from Nepal and two from Bangladesh during a routine stop at a checkpoint near the central Pacific beach town of Jacó. The nine migrants were transported in an SUV and likely en route to Nicaragua. The driver was arrested on human smuggling charges.
Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa said he believes human smugglers are using Costa Rica as a route north from Panama to Nicaragua. The migrants’ final destination likely is the United States, he said.
“We have reports that these migrants usually arrive by sea to Ecuador and then continue their trips by land, mainly to the U.S. We are tenaciously working to determine who is responsible for these local [smuggling] operations,” Gamboa said.
The Nepalese men were taken to a local health clinic for evaluation and then transferred to immigration authorities, the Public Security Ministry stated in a press release.