Guatemala busts migrant trafficking gang

Guatemalan security forces arrested 12 people, including five police members, accused of promising desperate people passage to the United States only to abandon them mid-way after taking their money.

The gang allegedly operated in areas of Guatemala bordering Mexico and Honduras, receiving payment from people hoping for a new life in America.

Police spokesman Jorge Aguilar told journalists the arrests came after 20 houses were searched in the northern department of Peten, near the borders with Mexico and Belize, and in Izabal near the frontier with Honduras in the east.

The 12, he said, “apparently promised to bring people to the United States, but they ended up being abandoned in parts of Guatemala or Mexico.”

They will face charges of human trafficking, conspiracy to traffic and bribery.

Izabal has been a key entry point for groups of Honduran migrants trying to make their way on foot to Mexico via Peten, and then further north from there.

But Guatemalan security forces have thwarted the migrants at every turn.

In mid-January, Guatemalan police and soldiers broke up a caravan of some 7,000 Honduran migrants, including hundreds of children, who turned up at the border without valid travel documents or negative Covid tests.

A week later, the United States, Mexico and Guatemala agreed to bar migrants from passing through their territories due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than a dozen caravans, some with thousands of migrants, have set off from Honduras since October 2018, aiming to walk to a better life in the United States. All came up against border guards and police.

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