San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Immigration

Costa Rican police arrest alleged human-smuggling ringleader

Roughly a month after Immigration Police broke up a human smuggling network ferrying Cubans to the United States, Costa Rica authorities have taken down another operation, this time one that smuggled people to Europe.

On Tuesday Immigration Police, with assistance from San José Municipal Police, arrested a 44-year-old Dominican man who is allegedly the ringleader of an organization that smuggled Dominicans migrants into Spain and France through Costa Rica with false Panamanian passports, according to a statement from the Immigration Administration. Authorities had been looking for Tejada since 2012 on human smuggling charges.

Tejada — who used an alias with the last names “Gómez Gómez” on a Costa Rican ID card that said he was 45 years old — allegedly arranged for Dominican migrants to legally travel to Panama. From there, the migrants illegally crossed into Costa Rica and traveled to San José. Once in San José, Tejada allegedly supplied the Dominican migrants with fake Panamanian passports and ID cards that they used to fly to Colombia en route to France or Spain.

Tejada was ordered to four months of preventive detention at the San Sebastián jail in San José.

Immigration Administration spokeswoman Seidy Muñoz clarified that at this point in the investigation, the migrants who used Tejada’s alleged network appeared to participate voluntarily and were not being trafficked for sex or other illicit activities.

So far in 2015, the Immigration Administration’s investigative unit has dismantled 20 human smuggling networks, including one on Nov. 10 that was responsible for smuggling thousands of Cuban migrants into Costa Rica on their way to the U.S.

Contact Zach Dyer at zdyer@ticotimes.net

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