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INS Statement

June 27, 2001

Largest Multinational Alien Smuggling Operation
Results in 7,898 Arrests in Latin America and Caribbean
International Cooperation of 14 Nations Called Key to Success

WASHINGTON – The largest multinational anti-smuggling operation ever conducted in the Western Hemisphere has resulted in the arrest of 75 smugglers and illegal document vendors. Nearly 8,000 migrants from 39 countries destined for the United States and Canada were interdicted during Operation Crossroads International, which involved the United States, Canada and 12 nations in Latin America and the Caribbean, Acting INS Commissioner Kevin Rooney announced today.

“Operation Crossroads International demonstrates the effectiveness of international cooperation in attacking global crime,” Acting Commissioner Rooney said. “When nations work together, we can achieve remarkable results in combating multi-billion-dollar alien smuggling criminal operations.”

The wide-ranging anti-smuggling operation was directed by the INS Mexico City District Office and involved law enforcement participants from the INS Office of International Affairs and other U.S. law enforcement agencies at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

The operation was conducted June 4 - 20. Law enforcement officers in Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and Peru interdicted 7,898 individuals, with 5,500 being repatriated after immigration processing by these transit countries. Seven U.S. citizens were also arrested for immigration law violations.

“Operation Crossroads International clearly demonstrates how our INS overseas deterrence strategy works. Simultaneous, coordinated efforts between the United States and other countries are key to attacking this growing global problem,” said Hipolito Acosta, INS Mexico City District Director. “To date, this is the largest, most successful operation of its kind. The message is clear -- the United States is committed with its partners to pursuing smugglers, wherever they operate.”

National police agencies and immigration officials from the participating countries led this immigration enforcement operation while INS officers provided technical assistance and support in detecting fraudulent documents at hotels, safe houses, airports and highway checkpoints in the host countries. INS officers also assisted some host governments with airport passenger screening at international airports.

Crossroads International is the latest in a series of nine anti-smuggling efforts known as Operation Disrupt, which have been conducted over the past five years. However, Crossroads International is the first Disrupt operation where countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have worked simultaneously in a multilateral, coordinated effort to protect migrants who are victims of criminal smuggling organizations.

Operation Crossroads International is one of many operations designed to counter the increase in international migrant trafficking. This latest operation is part of a larger INS initiative, known as Global Reach, which was launched four years ago to strengthen the agency’s presence overseas to combat the increasing global problem of migrant smuggling.

– INS –