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Panama Dismantles Chinese Migrant Smuggling Ring

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Panama Dismantles Chinese Migrant Smuggling Ring


 Posted 14/05/2024

A criminal network that laundered at least $2 million from the trafficking of Chinese migrants was dismantled by the Public Ministry through Operation Asia, in which five people were arrested. During investigations carried out by the Specialized Prosecutor's Office against Organized Crime in the provinces of Bocas del Toro, Coclé and Panama, front men of the criminal network were located, who were purchasing real estate, luxury cars and were carrying out commercial activities with funds from migrant trafficking.  The investigation revealed that migrants were recruited in China through social networks who paid up to $23,000 to travel by plane to Costa Rica and then clandestinely entered Panama.  The prosecutor against organized crime, Emeldo Márquez, explained that the preceding crime in this case is the trafficking of migrants carried out between 2017 and 2019, where the illegal transfer of several people from China was detected. 

In the operation, the prosecutor's office seized four vehicles with a value of $203 thousand, two properties valued at $350 thousand, four fixed installments for an amount of 850 thousand, and 15 bank accounts with $916 thousand.  Prosecutor Marquez stated that this criminal network was located thanks to intelligence information that revealed the operational structure of this migrant trafficking network.  He also explained that the migrants had Panama as their final destination, where they were engaged in commercial activities.  He reported that the traceability of the money, revealed that the funds were sent from China via Ecuador, Peru and then Panama as payment.  For his part, the police commissioner, Sergio Delgado, explained that a large amount of electronic equipment, documents and cell phones were collected that could link other people to this criminal network.


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