The Brazilian Federal Police (PF, in Portuguese) joined security forces of more than 40 countries to combat human trafficking during Operation Liberterra, July 5-9, 2021.
“The tasks involved prevention, repression, and support activities for victims of human trafficking and promotion of illegal migration [migrant smuggling],” the PF said in a July 26 statement. “The operation also prevented related crimes such as document forgery, money laundering, and taking part in a transnational criminal organization,” the PF added.
Coordinated by Interpol, the operation had the participation of 47 countries worldwide, including Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States.
“Operation Liberterra is a five-day snapshot of the global trafficking and smuggling situation and how multinational, highly organized criminal networks only focus on a single thing: profit,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock, in a July 26 statement.
According to Interpol, authorities dismantled 22 criminal groups and arrested 286 suspects worldwide. Police conducted about 500,000 inspections at checkpoints, airports, and access points identified in the investigations.
“Police rescued 430 human trafficking victims and identified 4,000 irregular migrants from 74 countries,” Interpol said.
In Brazil, police officers served court orders and rescued 10 victims, including Brazilians and foreigners, in cities such as Governador Valadares, in Minas Gerais, and Rio Branco, in Acre. According to the PF, “migration control intensified for more than 11,000 international passengers and passers-by at strategic border checkpoints.”
For example, on the Friendship Bridge between Brazil and Paraguay, police arrested a fugitive who was trying to cross to the Paraguayan side. “His name was on an Interpol Red Notice,” the PF reported.
Agents also carried out activities at the international airports of Cumbica, in Guarulhos, and Galeão, in Rio de Janeiro, in addition to the Integration Bridge, on the border with Peru.
Colombia and Ecuador
As part of Operation Liberterra, Colombia made 22 arrests and dismantled two criminal organizations. “One group was engaged in smuggling migrants into the United States, while the other focused on bringing Cuban and Haitian migrants from Ecuador to Colombia,” Interpol said. Colombian police also arrested two individuals wanted internationally by Spain for human trafficking.
In Ecuador, authorities arrested eight suspects for smuggling migrants into the United States. They used a legitimate travel agency as a front to book flights via Mexico, Interpol stated.
The operation was supported by Europol, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes.