Arrest of 16 Brazilians in the Bahamas shows new illegal route to the U.S.



14/09/2012 –

The arrest of 16 Brazilians on a boat in the Bahamas territory on Monday, reinforced the suspicion that there is a new route for illegal immigrants to reach the U.S., thorough the Caribbean.

The group was comprised of 13 men and 3 women. Two of them returned to Brazil yesterday and the others are likely to come back on Tuesday.

With the dramatic reports of immigrants arrested and even killed on the U.S-Mexico border, the Brazilian government believes gangs specialized in illegal immigrant trafficking have made a new route through the Caribbean. The small islands have several advantages, such as the large number foreigners arriving and departing and their proximity to Florida.

This is helped by the new flights from Brasília, São Paulo and Rio, for example, to some of the Caribbean countries.

In the case of the Bahamas, the biggest advantage is that the country, 286 km from Miami, is a tourist paradise, which survives almost exclusively on tourism and doesn’t require Brazilians to have a visa. All they have to do is show their return ticket upon arrival to obtain the right to a 2-week stay.

The illegal immigrants are transported mostly on boats, because there is a bilateral agreement with the U.S. that establishes that the immigration paperwork must be done at the Nassau airport, in the capital of the Bahamas. As the coast and ports are easier to enter, the gangs prefer to use boats, not airplanes.

Of the 16 Brazilians arrested, 14 were on a U.S. crewed boat, whose captain had three false IDs. The two other immigrants were ashore, but the crew denounced them.

Aside from the Brazilians, there were illegal Chinese immigrants aboard when the Coast Guard approached the boat while it was still near the coast of Nassau after an anonymous tip.

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