Colombia arrested 16 members of a transnational people smuggling ring specializing in migrants of Cuban, Pakistani and African origin, authorities said Tuesday.
The operation unfolded simultaneously in the northwestern cities of Medellin and Apartado and the southwestern cities of Ipiales and Cali, the army said in a statement that identified the detainees only by their aliases.
The detainees in Ipiales, “Coyote” and “Lobo,” were tasked with “receiving the migrants at the border with Ecuador and transporting them to the interior of the country.”
Later, alias “Cuchi,” apparently the leader of the network, gave instructions to “Primo,” “Dora,” “Rodrigo,” “Horacio,” “Luis” and “Elvis” to transport the migrants to the northwest.
The route was completed by the traffickers detained in Medellin and Apartado – alias Nana, Alex, Jose, Pechon, Ariel and Mono – who, according to the investigation, were “in charge of receiving the migrants … and coordinating their (journey) to Panama.”
According to the army, the transnational network used Colombia as a “way station” en route to the United States.