Human Merchandise

Martine Perret/UN photo



Ricardo Swire



Human trafficking is more egregious than smuggling illegal drugs and guns. The 2013 US State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report named Chile as one main source, transit and destination country. Men, women and children are transported to the South American Republic as prisoners of sex rings and forced labour. Over a five year period Chile’s human trafficking business tripled. The National Civil Police registered fifty-six cases in 2013, versus one hundred and eighty-three in 2017.


The 2016 US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report labelled Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, the Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Maarten and Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, as overwhelmed by “Sex-trafficking.” The term encompasses transporting, harboring, providing or obtaining a person for forced commercial sex acts through the manipulation of fraud, force or coercion.


On April 17, 2018 Chilean internal security officials intercepted and detained three Haitians, one Peruvian and a local suspect. The detainees were participants in a duplicitous migrant trafficking syndicate. Three legitimately registered Chilean travel agencies in Santiago served as fronts for the traffickers. One travel agency operated a satellite branch in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Several Haitian migrants paid US$2,000 for “travel packages” that assisted with entry to Chile.


Packages included employment opportunities and extended visas. Victims arrived at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport with official airline tickets and cash, which satisfied immigration officials they were legitimate tourists. After arrival and clearance members of the trafficking network confiscated the migrants’ money. The tactic automatically cancelled victims’ chances of finding accommodation.


According to the Chilean Attorney General’s Office the trafficking network made US$160,000 weekly, from four thousand Haitian migrants who were duped. In February 2018 a social media video highlighted the same human trafficking racket. The following month Haitian victims who had escaped publicly protested their ordeals. Trafficking trends have identified Haitian opportunists who follow the popular domestic “Chilean Dream.”


Such national mindset also provides opportunities for transnational traffickers to profit from the migrants’ desperation. A 2017 Haiti National Police three month probe found thirty-three girls, twenty minors among them, held captive in one room of the Kaliko Beach Club. The law enforcers also discovered four women and eight men with cocaine and marijuana in an adjoining room of the famous Côtes des Arcadins luxury hotel, thirty-seven miles from Port-Au-Prince.


Haiti occupies a place on the US State Department’s black list of nations where human trafficking flourishes. Primarily because of failure to investigate, prosecute, convict and sentence arrested traffickers. Other countries on the US black list are Suriname, Myanmar, Djibouti, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.





Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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