HEADLINES

Operation Mesoamerica: Arrested 41 People Linked To People Smuggling

By Alistair Reign, July 22, 2016. Alistair Reign News Blog.

During the month of July forty-one individuals linked to transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) responsible for smuggling hundreds of individuals through South and Central America into the United States were arrested by foreign partners  in two separate multinational operations under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ongoing efforts in the region as part of Operation Citadel.

Operation Mesoamerica” was a 15-month multinational investigation that began with a tip from the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Assistant Attaché Office in Merida, Mexico, and ended Tuesday, June 28 (2016), with the arrest of 27 individuals throughout Central America.

A second human smuggling investigation yielded 14 arrests on Monday, June 27 (2016), in Colombia.

Operation Mesoamerica” took place in Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica. Among those arrested was Luis Leonardo Mejia Pasapera, the alleged head of a TCO operating in Guatemala and the region. Pasapera, a Peruvian national, was fraudulently living as a Guatemalan citizen. He was arrested on June 28 (2016) by the Guatemalan National Police in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Guatemalan officials issue arrest warrants during Operation Mesoamerica

Guatemalan officials issue arrest warrants during Operation Mesoamerica. (Photo: ICE).

This operation is a reflection of the multilateral commitment to identifying and dismantling criminal networks involved in the illicit movement of people,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “Through this effort, we are demonstrating that when it comes to protecting our borders, the international community will operate as one in a united front against those involved in human smuggling.

Evidence gathered during the investigation revealed that Pasapera worked with other TCOs in Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador to smuggle individuals from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East through South America and Central America. According to court documents, Pasapera charged approximately $20,000 USD per individual.

Pasapera faces more than 20 years imprisonment, if found guilty.

  • The Guatemalan National Police arrested ten individuals, including Pasapera. Of those, one was an alleged corrupt Guatemalan National Police officer.
  • Guatemalan officials also executed sixteen search warrants at different locations throughout the country, seizing vehicles, motorcycles, guns, ammunition, passports and money.
  • The Panamanian National Police arrested seven individuals and executed six search warrants, while
  • Costa Rican authorities nabbed two individuals, executing two search warrants and seizing one weapon.
  • Salvadoran officials arrested one individual and
  • Honduran officials arrested six individuals to include two alleged corrupt immigration officials.
  • Nicaragua arrested a seventh individual, the main Honduran target, and will be turned over to Honduran officials.

All of the above are alleged to have been working with Pasapera.

The following ICE Attaché offices participated in the multinational investigation: Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, Mexico, Brazil, and El Salvador. HSI Washington, D.C., HSI New York and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) also assisted with the investigation.

Members of the Guatemalan National Police interview an individual during Operation Mesoamerica.

Members of the Guatemalan National Police interview an individual during Operation Mesoamerica. (Photo: ICE).

The following agencies conducted the arrests and are handling the prosecution of the cases: the Guatemalan National Police, the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office, the Salvadoran National Police, the Salvadoran Attorney General’s Office, the Panamanian National Police, the Panamanian Attorney General’s Office, the Costa Rican National Police, the Costa Rican Attorney General’s Office, the Honduran National Police and the Honduran Attorney General’s Office.

In a separate human smuggling case not linked to Operation Mesoamerica, the ICE Attaché Colombia supported the Colombian National Police in a human smuggling investigation that yielded 14 arrests in five Colombian cities and the execution of seven search warrants. Evidence uncovered during the investigation revealed that the TCO in Colombia was responsible for smuggling individuals primarily from Bangladesh through Colombia and Venezuela into the United States. During the operation, officials seized the equivalent of $6,000 USD in Colombian and Venezuelan currency and one weapon. The case is being handled by the Colombian Attorney General’s Office.

Operation Mesoamerica human trafficking operation conducted in Panama City, Panama.

Operation Mesoamerica human trafficking operation conducted in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: ICE).

Operation Mesoamerica comes under ICE HSI’s Operation Citadel, a multinational effort that focuses on increasing partner nation capacity to identify, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), and other support networks involved in human smuggling throughout South and Central America, and Mexico. The scope of the operation includes cross-border enforcement actions with partner nations, document and media collection at ports of entries and along illicit smuggling routes, and traditional training events.

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Joint Task Force for Investigations (JTF-I) provided investigative and analytical support for Operation Citadel. JTF-I is one of three new inter-component task forces established as part of DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s unity of effort initiative to better integrate DHS components’ capabilities, authorities and expertise.

Operation Mesoamerica human trafficking operation conducted in Panama City, Panama.

Operation Mesoamerica human trafficking operation conducted in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: ICE).

Through its International Operations, HSI has 65 operational attaché offices in 46 countries around the world. HSI special agents work closely with foreign law enforcement agencies through a robust network of specialized, vetted units known as Transnational Criminal Investigative Units. Additionally, HSI brings personnel from host countries to the United States to train at the Department of Homeland Security Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.


We welcome comments and conversation. Scroll down page to use the comment box.

Send inquiries and permission to re-blog article to Alistair.Reign@Gmail.com, thank you.

Click Picture for a Popular Article

  • Two homeless brothers try to survive on the streets of India.
  • The May 18-21 festival appeared to be a Saudi charm offensive aimed at federal policy makers as the Trudeau government fields questions about its decision to grant export permits for the armoured vehicles to a country that U.S. watchdog Freedom House regularly ranks among “the worst of the worst” on human rights. The Saudi embassy blamed “logistical reasons” for its last-minute change of plans when contacted Monday and a spokesperson said the country’s decision was not motivated by fear of protesters. Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion’s office had already said he would not be attending the “Saudi Cultural Days in Canada.” The embassy was adamant the event “had nothing to do” with the $15-billion arms deal and said it had been planned for years. Canada’s Department of Global Affairs, however, said it was notified of the “Cultural Days” on Jan. 14. That date was nearly two weeks after mass executions in Saudi Arabia drew public condemnation from the Trudeau government.
  • The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is amongst 17 organizations and two individuals that sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry today (January 5, 2016) urging him to press Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to halt the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr and several other demonstrators from the country’s marginalized Eastern Province. On October 24 2015, the Saudi Supreme Court ratified the death sentence issued to Sheikh Nimr in October 2014. Since September, the Saudi criminal justice system has also ratified the death sentences of Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher, three men arrested as minors in 2012 for their protest activity.
  • Faces of the women who had their lives cut short by Pickton.
  • A malnourished child lies on a weighing machine at a therapeutic feeding Centre at Al Sabyeen hospital in Sana’a. (Reuters)
  • Documentary: Part One - A Year In Space With Scott Kelly
  • The Liberals are on the defensive after court documents released earlier this month revealed that Mr. Dion, not Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, signed the export permits to allow seventy-percent (70%) of the transaction to ship to Saudi Arabia. Many observers had assumed the Conservatives had granted export permits when they signed the deal. trudeau speaking"The Liberal signature on the export permits means that the Liberal government has taken full ownership of a decision to sell arms to a country notorious for human-rights abuses.
  • Yemen woman in bright scarf and hat, "War humiliated my daughter." Aunt Khemissa argument.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes Syrian refugees to Canada late Thursday night at Pearson International airport
  • And now - a country with more than 10,000 people killed in the ensuing violence, over 10,000 more died of starvation under the blockade of humanitarian aid and supplies - the Middle East’s poorest nation, Yemen is reduced to the brink of famine.
  • Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985.
  • Donald Trump Jumps The Shark

Click Picture for a Popular Cartoon

  • Satire: USA Denies Whites Can Be Terrorist
  • Donald Trump kissing his daughter
  • al-Batshit-Assad
  • Way-back Machine: Who Vogue'd It Best? Take our poll at Alistair Reign News Blog: AlistairReignBlog.com
  • GOP Caption winner first place on AlistairReignBlog.com
  • I hate Monday
  • Britney Spears Looking Hot in black leather in Toxic music video. who was sexiest? Britney in Toxic or Taylor Swift in Bad Blood
  • What Donald Would Do!
  • The moment Bruce Jenner realized he was a woman
  • When cartoons turn into people
  • Tune in to the Putin and Obama Old-Timey Show ~*~ Vaudeville Style!! Brought to you by Alistair Reign News Blog: AlistairReignBlog.com
  • The Donalds invade Washington Caption This photo winner 1The Donalds invade Washington Caption This photo winner 1
  • Caption this winner sept 1