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Investigators arrest 45 people-smugglers in Central America

Investigators in Panama and Costa Rica have arrested 45 suspected people smugglers in a joint operation.

The Panamanian prosecutor for organized crime, Emeldo Marquez, disclosed this at a press conference on Tuesday.

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He said the smugglers were part of a network that brought migrants on their way to the United States from southern Panama through Costa Rica to Nicaragua.

He added that the investigation took a year and led to the arrest of 24 suspects in Costa Rica and 21 in Panama.

The suspected smugglers reportedly contacted migrants in reception centers in the Darien jungle and offered to take them with them.

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The jungle on the border between Panama and Colombia is very dangerous because of the rough terrain without roads and because of gangs active there.

According to the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), from January to August of this year alone, more than 70,000 migrants crossed the area towards the north, about as many as in the previous five years. Many of them come from Haiti or Cuba.

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