US to expand fight against human trafficking in Darien Gap

The United States announced Tuesday that it will expand interagency efforts to combat human trafficking in the dangerous Darien Gap, the dense jungle on the Colombia-Panama border through which many migrants bound for the states pass. -United.

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced that the two countries would be added to their Joint Task Force Alpha, a specialized unit created in June 2021 to investigate and prosecute human smugglers.

Previously, the task force worked in Mexico and three Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“We are expanding our enforcement efforts in Darien — one of the most dangerous migrant crossings in the world — and deploying rewards programs like those that brought down drug lords to pursue human smugglers ” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement. .

“To those who traffic human beings through Darien, know this: the full force of the United States government is coming toward you.”

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At the same time, the State Department announced it would offer $8 million in rewards for information leading to capturing or disrupting human trafficking networks operated by the Gulf Clan.

Migrants crossing Darien Gap face dangerous terrain, wild animals and violent criminal gangs who extort, kidnap and abuse them.

In recent years, many of them have come from South America, attempting to cross from Central America to Mexico, with the United States as their final destination.

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Last month, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said more than 30,000 migrant children crossed the border in the first four months of 2024, a 40% increase from the same period. from last year.

Some 2.8 million undocumented migrants enter the United States each year.

As the US election campaign gathers pace, immigration is emerging as a key issue in the race between Democratic President Joe Biden and presumptive Republican challenger Donald Trump.

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The former president accuses Biden of allowing an “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border and has vowed to lead a mass deportation effort if returned to the White House.

Biden, seeking to neutralize Republican attacks, recently issued an executive order that would bar migrants entering the United States illegally from seeking asylum when their numbers exceed 2,500 in a day.