The Colombian coast guard discovered a small fishing boat illegally transporting 35 Africans and 15 Indians to the U.S. off the Caribbean coast.
The boat, manned by a crew of four Colombians, was detained in the Caribbean Sea, close to Bocas
de Ceniza, in the northern department of Atlantico.
The vessel was brought to a naval school in Barranquilla, where the 44 male and 6 female passengers, some of which are minors, disembarked.
The commander of the caribbean coast guard, Orlando Grisales, told a press conference that the boat’s occupants were destined for the U.S. Some had flown from Africa to Brazil and then travelled over land through Peru and Ecuador to Colombia. They were planning a stopover in Nicaragua.
Grisales said the operation was coordinated by a network of international people smugglers. He said they had been in Barranquilla for a week and had been under observation by authorities, who waited until they set sail to detain them.
Colombia’s department of homeland security, D.A.S., is in the process of verifying their nationalities. They will remain in D.A.S. custody in Barranquilla until their nationalities are verified and they can be deported to their countries of origin.