U.S. offers rewards targeting migrant smugglers in Darién Gap

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Record number of migrants navigate Darién Gap

Record number of migrants trek done Panama's perilous Darién Gap 04:58

The State Department connected Tuesday announced up to $8 cardinal successful rewards to target quality smugglers operating successful the mostly ungoverned Darién region betwixt Colombia and Panama. Hundreds of thousands of migrants transverse Panama's treacherous Darién Gap jungle connected ft each period connected their measurement to nan U.S. confederate border. 

The announcement came connected nan 3rd day of Joint Task Force Alpha, a national programme aimed astatine investigating and prosecuting quality smuggling astatine the confederate border. Senior leaders from nan departments of Justice, Homeland Security and State convened to talk nan advancement made successful nan past 3 years, officials said. 

Officials opportunity nan purpose of nan JTFA is to disrupt and dismantle criminal smuggling organizations moving successful Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. The task force's accomplishments see much than 300 home arrests and much than 240 U.S. convictions, according to a elder charismatic from nan Justice Department. 

PANAMA-COLOMBIA-US-MIGRATION Migrants trudge successful nan jungle adjacent nan colony of Bajo Chiquito, arsenic they make their measurement done nan Darién Gap betwixt Colombia and Panama successful 2023. LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images

The 3 caller rewards approved by Secretary of State Antony Blinken were portion of a caller Anti-Smuggling Rewards Initiative targeting cardinal leaders successful quality smuggling operations. They see up to $2 cardinal for accusation starring to nan apprehension aliases condemnation of immoderate cardinal leader, up to $1 cardinal for accusation starring to nan disruption of nan smuggling operations' finances, and up to $5 cardinal for accusation starring to nan apprehension aliases condemnation of immoderate cardinal location leader "involved successful quality smuggling successful nan Darién by encouraging and inducing aliens to participate nan United States resulting successful death," according to nan State Department. 

Other initiatives discussed during Tuesday's gathering included nan JTFA's description to combat smuggling successful Colombia and Panama, arsenic good arsenic a legislative connection to summation penalties for "the astir prolific and vulnerable quality smugglers," nan Department of Justice said successful a news release. 

TOPSHOT-PANAMA-COLOMBIA-US-MIGRATION Migrants transverse nan Tuquesa stream adjacent Bajo Chiquito village, nan first separator power of nan Darien Province successful Panama, connected September 22, 2023. LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images

"Today, we are doubling down connected our efforts to onslaught astatine nan bosom of wherever quality smuggling networks operate," Attorney General Merrick Garland said successful a news release, which noted that organized criminals who power nan region's way routinely target migrants, some adults and children, for convulsive crimes that see murder, rape, robbery and extortion. 

Hundreds of thousands of migrants, galore of them women and children, crossed nan once-impenetrable Darién jungle connected ft past year, a grounds and once-unthinkable number, according to Panamanian government data. The immense mostly of nan migrants came from Venezuela, which has seen millions of its citizens fly successful caller years to flight a wide economical situation and authoritarian rule.

–Priscilla Saldana, Camilla Schick and Camilo Montoya-Galvez contributed reporting.

  • Immigration
  • Panama
  • Colombia
  • Migrants

S. Dev

S. Dev is simply a news editor for CBSNews.com.

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