The Christian Science Monitor | 2/22/2010 12:00:00 AM
Colombia becomes new hub for human smuggling into US
Feb 22--Long a starting point for cocaine smuggling, Colombia has now become a major hub for human smuggling from Africa and Asia to the US via Mexico.
Pressed together with six other Somalis and 63 Eritreans, they had set off in the dark of night from the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena, headed for somewhere in Central America. But shortly after they set sail, the vessel's steering mechanism snapped, the engine failed, and the boat began to take on water.
The boat finally ran aground on the tiny island of El Latal. The passengers scrambled ashore and the captain fled. Soon the Colombian Navy arrived, ushering the East African immigrants to the mainland and housing them in a small basketball stadium in this steamy city near the coast. Once here, they requested refugee status.
Colombia – long a starting point for much of the cocaine smuggled into the US – has now become a major hub for smuggling people from Africa and Asia to the US via Mexico. And, although this particular boatload of Africans may not have posed a security risk to the US, authorities are increasingly concerned that the Colombian human-trafficking hub could bring in terrorists.
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