Colombia’s security agency DAS announced Thursday plans to install 28 new border patrol units around the country, intended to stop people traffickers using the country as a stop on the way to the U.S.
According to a report by EFE, the new patrols will be stationed in La Guajira, Arauca and Norte de Santander, on Colombia’s border with Venezuela; Nariño, on the border with Ecuador; and Putumayo, on the border with Ecuador and Peru.
DAS will also increase the number of migration officials in the cities of Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Cali, and San Andres island, to control the movement of foreigners through hostels and hotels.
The security agency’s director Felipe Muñoz said that the changes are part of a new government strategy to reinforce controls against illegal immigration and people-trafficking, in which Colombia is used as a stepping stone on the way to the U.S.
People trafficking is “the third largest illegal business … in the world after arms and drug trafficking, they charge [the immigrants] between $10,000 and $60,000 for the journey,” explained the DAS director.
Muñoz said that people being transported face grave risks, “they are victims, who very often die during the journey.”
“This crime is associated with others, usually there are faked documents, the routes they use from the Caribbean coast are the same ones that are used for drug-trafficking.”
The patrols are being launched on the opening day of the First Iberoamerican Congress on Migration, where representatives from 22 countries will meet in Cartagena to discuss issues around international migration.