26 Nepalis among 51 undocumented migrants detained in Costa Rica

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KATHMANDU: As many as 26 Nepali citizens, presumably heading towards the United States of America with the help of "human smugglers" were detained from Central Pacific town of Jacó in Costa Rica, according to Costa Rican media.

According to The Tico Times, the Costa Rican authorities held 51 undocumented migrants including 26 from Nepal, nine from Bangladesh, four from Eritrea, nine from Somalia, two from Iraq and one from Pakistan on Wednesday when they were being transported on a truck.

"National Police officers detained a truck near the Central Pacific town of Jacó early Wednesday carrying from Asia, Africa and the Middle East," the paper said.

A Costa Rican man was driving the vehicle accompanied by three other Ticos. All of them were arrested.

The undocumented migrants were taken to a regional office of the Immigration Administration while the four Ticos were presented before the Prosecutor’s Office on charges of human trafficking, the Tico Times quoted Garabito police chief Oswaldo Rodríguez as saying.

Earlier, Guatemalan police had arrested 20 migrants including 11 Nepalis and 33 migrants including 11 Nepalis in August and December respectively for illegally entering the country apparently on their way to the United States of America.

Human smugglers had been found to be taking migrants from Asian countries to the United States of America via Central American countries, namely: El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.

According to the Costa Rica Public Security Ministry, the smugglers smugglers have been using Central America as a passageway for migrants on their way to the US. They often arrive in South America from other parts of the world and make their way up by plane, boat, train and highway.

If convicted, the detained men could serve sentences ranging from two to six years in prison under Article 249 of the Immigration Law.