Score of migrants rescued from traffickers in Panama
Panamanian authorities arrested three people on Thursday for illegal trafficking of migrants and freed some 20 victims in different parts of the country.
The Attorney General’s Office reported that the arrests took place in Chiriqui, bordering Costa Rica; on the outskirts of the capital and in Darien, the jungle zone that shares a natural border with Colombia.
“Nineteen people were rescued and three apprehended,” the AG Office said on Twitter.
Due to its healthy economy and relative stability, Panama in recent years has been one of the destinations most often selected by migrants from other Central American countries as well as from Venezuela and Colombia.
Panama is also a transit country for migrants from all over the world seeking to reach the US.
Prosecutor David Mendoza told reporters that the criminal organization was headed by an unnamed Panamanian woman.
He also said that the investigation continues and that the authorities also dismantled a “laboratory” where the organization forged fake documents for migrants, including ID cards, driver’s licenses and credit cards.
In Panama, a 2011 law makes human trafficking an offense punishable by up to 20 years in jail.
The United Nations estimates that human trafficking is a $32 billion a year business and that 70 percent of its victims are women.