First International Congress on Migrant Smuggling held in Costa Rica

13 January, 2020

The National Coalition on Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling (CONATT) in Costa Rica organized the First International Congress on Migrant Smuggling December 2-3, 2019, with technical support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the participation of the country's various police authorities. 

The objective of the Congress was to build the capacities of the police forces to investigate this crime. It promoted a space for training, interinstitutional information, and exchange of knowledge and best practices in order to support government action against this crime. 

Police forces such as the Professional Migration Police, the Border Police, the Judicial Investigation Agency, and the Prosecutor were present at the Congress. Additionally, officials attended from Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Management of the General Directorate of Migration and Foreign Affairs. 

It is essential to have national, interinstitutional, and international coordination between police authorities and related agencies unified in the fight against migrant smuggling and related crimes because it is a crime that endangers migrants. For this reason, we promote spaces that strengthen the connections we need to continue fighting,” stated Raquel Vargas, Director General of Migration and Foreign Affairs. 

Migrant smuggling is a global criminal activity that exposes thousands of migrants to serious risks. Migrants who have been smuggled need special assistance, because they have often been subjected to abuse, violations, and exploitation. In many cases, migrants have even died.  

Criminal groups take in an estimated 3 to 10 billion dollars each year from this activity. However, given the secretive nature of the crime, there are no trustworthy global statistics on the number of migrants who are smuggled each year. 

We are facing a long-standing crime which has evolved and grown more complicated over time, with criminal networks becoming more and more sophisticated. For IOM, it is of highest importance to support state initiatives that promote spaces for information and practical coordination between states which support the fight against migrant smuggling both through laws and successful operations to dismantle smuggling networks,” explained Roeland de Wilde, Chief of Mission of IOM in Costa Rica. 

These efforts were supported by the Regional Migration Program: Mesoamerica-The Caribbean, financed by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the Department of State of the United States.