Migrants from Another World: Part 5

A Cruel Business: Investigations on human trafficking and drug cartels along the migrant route through the Americas

12 September 2020
Coatzacoalcos, in Mexico’s Veracruz state, along the migrant route north through the Americas.
Felix Marquez
Coatzacoalcos, in Mexico’s Veracruz state, along the migrant route north through the Americas.
Felix Marquez

Reported by Estevan Muniz, Suchit Chávez, José Guarnizo, Juan Antonio Gómez, Alberto Pradilla, Deepak Adhikari, Ushinor Majumdar, Manno Wangnao, Sebastian Ortega, Noelia Esquivel Solano, Mary Trini Zea, Paul Mena and Giancarlo Fiorella.

On Tuesday, 10 May 2016, Brazilian federal police intercepted a parcel being sent from a DHL office in São Paulo to Johannesburg, South Africa. The parcel contained five passports with false visas issued to two Kenyans, two Somalis and an Eritrean citizen, apparently stamped by Brazilian consulates in Mozambique, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

Abdifatah Hussein Ahmed, a South African citizen residing in Brazil, was the sender. He had already sent two similar parcels in late 2015, one to a man in Angola and the other to someone in Johannesburg, as was later discovered by the police, who were investigating Hussein Ahmed on suspicion of heading a human trafficking cell.

Investigators followed Hussein Ahmed’s trail until they discovered he had two partners in the trafficking business: Abdessalem Martani, of Algeria, and Mohsen Khademi Manesh, of Iranian origin. The trio provided citizens of various African countries with fraudulent visas that allowed them to enter Brazil, Bolivia or Venezuela. The migrants then set out on their 8,000-kilometre-long journeys—sometimes longer, depending on the starting point—to the United Stated or Canada.

According to the police, Hussein Ahmed and his network transported Abdi Yussuf Wardere, a Kenyan, and Mohamed Ibrahim Qoordheer, a Somali, two alleged members of the armed Islamic organisation al-Shabaab, which has committed acts of terror in Somalia and Kenya. A joint investigation conducted by the Brazilian federal police and the US immigration service finally led to Hussein Ahmed’s arrest on charges of human trafficking in August 2019.

Ronny Rojas is a Costa Rican journalist.

Keywords: Migrants from Another World Latin America refugees migrants Brazil Trafficking
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