Human smugglers now flying clients out of Vietnam


TNN | Mar 2, 2024 

AHMEDABAD: After French authorities grounded a chartered flight with illegal migrants headed to Nicaragua, human smugglers have been trying new methods to get their clients to America. The latest is flying them to Nicaragua from Vietnam, and then to the US. A few such would-be emigrants from Gandhinagar recently travelled to Vietnam from where they were to board a chartered flight to Nicaragua. Some of them were forced to return to India because no facilities were provided at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and some of them were robbed. One of those who went to Vietnam in Jan to try getting to the US said, "We were promised a chartered flight to Dubai from where we were to go to Istanbul and then Mexico. We landed at Ho Chi Minh City according to the instructions of our agent (human smuggler) and went to a hotel as he directed." When the traveller from Gandhinagar got to the hotel, he found that his agent had not booked rooms for him and his family. He made constant calls to the agent who took him for a ride. The Gandhinagar man and his family had no option but to return to India in 24 hours. Sources within the human smuggling network and Gujarat police said human smugglers book tickets in bulk or charter flights. "As getting visas for other countries from Vietnam is easier because of smaller crowds and shorter waiting

periods, they make their clients take interviews for US visitor visas there. If the client fails to get a visa, they get them a visa for Dubai and then take the Istanbul-Mexico route to get to the US," a source in the Gujarat police said. On Dec 21, France had grounded a Nicaragua-bound chartered flight with 303 passengers on board based on a tip-off. On Dec 24, a court set up at Vatry airport near Paris ordered the release of the passengers and allowed the flight to take off for Mumbai. Only 276 of them, mainly Gujaratis and Punjabis, however, landed in Mumbai. CID (crime) of Gujarat police is conducting a probe in that case. TOI had earlier reported that one such chartered flight with illegal migrants had a halt at a German airport as well. A crackdown on illegal emigration began after a family of four, including two children, from a Gandhinagar village froze to death while attempting to walk across the Canada-US border in Jan 2022.




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