27 Feb 2018
A smuggler’s chilling warning – CNN, 2018/02/27
Edo State is Nigeria’s trafficking hub and one of Africa’s largest departure points. Each year, tens of thousands of migrants are illegally smuggled from here. They’re refugees fleeing conflict or economic migrants in search of better opportunities in Europe, most having sold everything they own to finance the journey.
But as CNN revealed in an exclusive report last year, they often never get beyond Libya.
When they arrive, they’re told by smugglers they will need to pay thousands of dollars more to continue their journey across the Mediterranean.
When the migrants fail to pay, they are held in grim living conditions, deprived of food, abused by their captors, and sold as laborers in slave auctions.
Footage obtained of a slave auction in Libya — in which young men were sold by smugglers for as little as $400 each — caused international outrage.
Three months later we wanted to see whether that outrage had translated into action. CNN producer Leposo and I went undercover as two wealthy women paying for the “VIP” travel package from Nigeria to Europe, which includes a smuggler who will meet us in the northern city of Kano and escort us across the border into Libya.
Read the rest to find out the outcome. According to a report, half of the 122 interviewed women and children had been sexually abused.
1 Nov 2017
2017/11/01 – Libya coastguard rescues nearly 300 people at sea trying to reach Europe – The New Arab
Libya’s coastguard rescued nearly 300 people including dozens of women and children from unseaworthy boats as they tried to reach Europe, a navy official said on Wednesday.
They were of different African nationalities and were plucked from two rubber dinghies without engines and brought back to the Tripoli naval base, he said.
Since the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, chaos-hit Libya has become a key point of departure for people heading to Europe.
Last month forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed unity government ousted a militia controlling the trafficking from the western city of Sabratha.
This is how many refugees have been getting to Europe. One of the things Gaddafi did while in power was patrol these waters and hinder the refugee traffic. But since Qadafi was ousted, those who were in control were facilitating refugees heading to Europe.
Italy now has an agreement with Italy to block refugee traffic. Their refugee numbers have declined. Spain’s intake has tripled according to the article.
30 Jun 2017
2017/06/30 – Trump administration says ‘I do’ to adding fiances to travel ban exemptions – Fox News
The Trump administration has apparently altered its definition of a “bona fide” relationship, adding fiancés of people in the U.S. to its list of people who are exempt from its travel ban from six mainly Muslim nations.
The guidelines sent to U.S. embassies and consulates on Wednesday said applicants from the six countries must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling in the U.S.
12 Jun 2017
2017/06/12 – EU to open case against Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic over migration – Reuters
2017/6/05 – Czechs halt taking migrants from Italy, Greece under EU relocation scheme – Reuters
The Czech Republic will halt taking in migrants under an EU scheme to share asylum seekers who arrived in Greece and Italy, citing security concerns, the government agreed on Monday.
Under a plan agreed in 2015, the European Commission wants EU member states to each admit a quota from a total of 160,000 asylum seekers stuck in the two Mediterranean countries. Most have fled conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
But several EU members including the Czech Republic have protested the decision and some have refused to take in any people under the scheme.
“Due to the aggravated security situation and the dysfunctionality of the whole system, the government approved… a proposal to halt this system for the Czech Republic,” Chovanec told a news conference following a cabinet meeting.
31 May 2017
2017/05/30 – One Third of Noncitizens Found Voted Illegally – Public Interest Legal Foundation
After three lawsuits, scores of record requests, and reviews voter history files across 133 Virginia jurisdictions, the Public Interest Legal Foundation has uncovered the following:
- Virginia election officials quietly removed 5,556 voters for non-citizenship between 2011 and May 2017;
- 1,852 of those removed as noncitizens cast ballots;
- A total of 7,474 illegal ballots were cast from the pool of removed noncitizens;
- Some records of illegal voting date back to the 1980s before their respective removals;
- Virginia election officials routinely fail to alert law enforcement about these illegal votes or registrations.
Repeatedly, Governor McAuliffe thwarted legislative reforms that would improve the integrity of Virginia’s voter registration and voting systems–some of which were inspired by PILF’s 2016 report. The 2017 edition outlines some lowlights:
- In 2015, McAuliffe appointees in the Virginia Board of Elections floated a proposal that would have made an attestation of citizenship portion of the voter registration form optional.
- McAuliffe vetoed SB 1105, which would have required voter registrars to investigate possible system failures, should their lists of voters surpass local citizen voting age population figures.
- McAuliffe vetoed SB 1581, which would have required voter registrars to verify incoming voter applications against state and federal databases.
- McAuliffe vetoed SB2343, which would have given resources to voter registrars to identify voters concurrently registered in other jurisdictions.
- McAuliffe vetoed SB 872, which would have incorporated voter identification functions into the absentee balloting system.
30 May 2017
2017/05/26 – 5 suspects nabbed in million-dollar drug op are ‘not of legal status’ – Birmingham News
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency announced the arrests of Elsy Judith Martinez-Lopez, 30, Bernardo M. Lopez, 36, Misael Agosttini-Otero, 32, Rafael A. Arvayo-Lopez, 31 and Armando Escobar-Jackes, 39.
Authorities have not released the locations of the raids, but said they seized $920,000 worth of drugs: 140 pounds of marijuana worth $420,000; two pounds of cocaine worth $100,000 and four pounds of meth worth $400,000. Investigators also confiscated $95,000 in cash and two guns.
30 May 2017
2017/05/22 – Former Customs and Border Protection Officer sentenced for smuggling and bribery – KGTV San Diego
Cota accepted cash and sexual favors from smugglers in exchange for allowing them to bring undocumented immigrants into the United States without inspection through his lane at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Miriam Juarez-Herrera and Gilberto Aguilar-Martinez, married Mexican nationals, were working with Cota in the bribery and smuggling scheme. The group charged as much as $15,000 per person they smuggled.
Cota, a 15 year veteran with the agency, was arrested in September 2016. According to court documents, he confessed to his crimes when he was taken into custody.
2016/09/08 – Customs and Border Protection Officer Arrested for Receiving Sexual Favors in Exchange for Allowing Aliens to be Smuggled Through His Lane – FBI
According to the complaint filed in this matter, after approaching Cota’s vehicle primary inspection lane from the Republic of Mexico at the San Ysidro Port of Entry (SYPOE), Cota allowed Juarez-Herrera, Aguilar-Martinez, and/or other persons without prior official authorization to enter into the United States on November 3, 2015; November 16, 2015; March 15, 2016; and September 7, 2016. Financial records indicated large sums of cash were deposited into Cota’s bank accounts following the smuggling events.