Soccer used for human trafficking


Football is being used as a vehicle for human trafficking, with at least 4,000 young players illegally shipped from Africa to Europe to pursue dreams of a career in the game.

Foot Solidaire, a French organisation that works to protect young footballers from exploitation, said it is dealing with at least 20 new cases each week and has called on Fifa to act. Parents are spending thousands of pounds to send their sons to Europe in the hope they will earn lucrative contracts, but the teenagers are then abandoned on the street.

In a special TV report shown on Sky Sports News last night, a Fifa-licensed agent in Cameroon was exposed offering to sell 14- and 15-year-olds for £25,000. A Fifa statement said: “Should any evidence be made available of any wrongdoing or abuse of Fifa’s regulations, we would naturally support any investigation.”


Human trafficking linked to wrecked yacht off N.S

Survivors of a yacht that was crippled by heavy seas off Nova Scotia Tuesday are claiming refugee status and the incident, which claimed one life and left three people missing, is being treated as a possible attempt to smuggle Eastern Europeans into Canada.

“There is an enormous and unnecessary risk involved with the act of human smuggling,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews in a statement. “Our government’s message is clear to those contemplating a human smuggling operation – don’t do it.”

The 10-metre vessel, which Toews identified as the SV Tabasco 2, was carrying nine people when it developed mechanical difficulties amid heavy seas about 150 kilometres off Cape Sable Island.

A military Cormorant rescue helicopter picked up three people, one of whom died on the way to hospital, said Capt. John Pulchny of CFB Greenwood, N.S. A tanker, the FSL Hamburg, picked up three more passengers and was taking them to Saint John, N.B.

Three others remain missing and the search was continuing in stormy weather.

Thai, Australia police bust human trafficking ring


Iraqi national Raihan Ashour Oraibi Alfatlawi sits behind false passports he had possessed as he is presented to the media at Thai Immigration headquarter in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, March 27, 2012. Thai police arrested Alfatlawi and a Thai woman on Tuesday, while Australian police announced the arrest of four men in Sydney and Melbourne in a multination operation against human trafficking networks.

Police in Thailand and Australia arrested six people Tuesday as part of a yearlong, multination operation against human trafficking networks.

Thai police said they arrested an Iraqi man and a Thai woman in Bangkok, while Australian police arrested four men in Sydney and Melbourne.

Thai police Lt. Gen. Wiboon Bangthamai said the arrests were part of “Operation Arapaima,” a yearlong effort to crack down on human trafficking networks in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, the smuggling destination.

Although participating in the police operation, no arrests were made in Malaysia or Indonesia. Australian police said the operation was continuing.

Australia has long attracted asylum seekers hoping to start a new life, with thousands arriving by boat in recent years. Most are from war-ravaged nations such as Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran or Iraq, and use Malaysia or Indonesia as a starting point for a sea journey to Australia.

In Thailand, the Iraqi man, Raihan Ashour Oraibi Alfatlawi, 39, and the Thai woman, Sunida Sokul, 36, were arrested on charges of passport forgery, Wiboon said.


U.S. visas available for trafficking victims

Immigration law professor Julie Dinnerstein (l.-r.) and USCIS employees Lynn Boudreau, Scott Whelan and Andrea Quarantillo discuss at a forum avenues available to immigrants who are victims of sex trafficking and other crimes.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Long Island City hosted a forum Tuesday to get the word out about legal options for immigrants who have been victims of human trafficking, abuse or domestic violence.

“We know there are victims out there and there is help available,” said Andrea Quarantillo, district director of USCIS for New York City, at the office at 27-35 Jackson Ave.

Scott Whelan, of the USCIS’s office of policy and strategy, said there are three ways that can help immigrants who have been victimized.

First, T visas allow victims of all types of trafficking — forced labor, sexual or involuntary servitude — to stay and work in the United States on a temporary basis.

Whelan said many victims of this underground crime end up dead.

“Human trafficking is a brutal crime,” he said.

A U visa is available for victims of abuse and other crimes, Whelan said. Immigrants who suffer from domestic violence, both female and male, also can apply for legal status without having to go through their abusive spouse under the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act.


Authorities Detain 20 Suspected Illegal Immigrants in El Segundo

Federal agents and El Segundo police officers check a panga boat that washed ashore in El Segundo on Wednesday morning

Authorities detained 20 suspected illegal immigrants Wednesday after a smuggling boat washed ashore in El Segundo.

The small panga boat had departed from Tijuana and landed on the beach near the NRG power plant in El Segundo just before sunrise, said Lt. Raymond Garcia of the El Segundo Police Department. Police responded to a call at 6:45 a.m. that people were “running in all directions,” he said.

Local authorities detained 20 people and turned them over to federal immigration officials, Garcia said.

“They were all wet, cold, scared,” he said. “Some weird things wash up in our city but never a boat full of illegal immigrants.”

Panga boats are used by Mexican fishermen, as well as smugglers attempting to bring undocumented immigrants or drugs across the border.

As enforcement has tightened along the border since 2007, smugglers have increasingly turned to the ocean as a route. Although most of the boats have come ashore in northern San Diego County, others have been found along the beaches of Orange and Los Angeles counties.Driving it all are enormous profits. Smugglers charge immigrants as much as $6,000, and a boatload of 20 can bring more than $100,000.Federal immigration authorities said they have intercepted boats as far north as Santa Barbara County.

In Lagos, Nigeria, marginalized children face exploitation, trafficking and abuse

Sex and drugs are readily available on Kuramo Beach, a stretch of sand along the Gulf of Guinea. Children play in the sand, not far from sex workers. Nearby, tough young men known as ‘area boys’ sit under battered beach umbrellas.

It is also home to children living and working on the streets of Lagos.

Deprived of opportunities, Lagos, a chaotic and polluted mega-city built on swamps and reclaimed lagoons, is an economic draw for all of West Africa. UN agencies estimate that 10.2 million people live in the city, and 49 per cent of the country’s population is under age 18. This means a staggering number of children live in the dense metropolitan area.

Though the city presents a variety of opportunities, many children do not benefit from them. Some live in slums, others are victims of trafficking. Still others have been forced onto the streets by abuse or poverty. These marginalized children are vulnerable to exploitation, violence, drug use and recruitment into gangs.

“More and more children are running away,” said Ngozi Ekwerike-Okora, a coordinator with Child-to-Child Network and the Lagos State Child Protection Network.

“Many come from broken homes, which makes them vulnerable to peers who recruit them in their villages and sell them to be trained as pickpockets,” she said, describing rural children brought to Lagos by traffickers and sold to the ‘area boys’, who employ them as petty thieves and take their earnings.


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Paso Robles Couple Sentenced to Federal Prison in Case Involving Smuggled Aliens who Worked Under Abusive Conditions

LOS ANGELES—A husband and wife from Paso Robles who admitted harboring illegal aliens after they were smuggled into the United States and forced to work in substandard conditions at the couple’s elder care facilities were each sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison.

Maximino Morales, 46, and his wife, Melinda Morales, 48, each received 18-month sentences from United States District Judge Audrey B. Collins.

“The Filipino victims in this case were lured to the United States with false promises and were essentially performing slave labor,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “We are committed to protecting the basic civil rights of all people, no matter their status in the United States.”

The Morales, both natives of the Philippines, pleaded guilty last May to conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens. The Morales, who operated four elder care facilities under the umbrella of “Four M’s, Inc.,” admitted that they recruited Filipino nationals to come to the United States with promises of work as live-in caregivers. A co-conspirator in the Philippines helped the aliens obtain fraudulent visas that allowed them to travel to the United States. After they arrived, “some of the aliens worked alone in 24-hour shifts…as caregivers at one of the Four M’s elder care residential facilities for less than minimum wage,” according to plea agreements filed in this case. “All of the aliens lived in the care facilities, and some of the aliens slept in a closet, on a sofa, and in a walled-off portion of an unheated, attached garage.” The aliens’ pay was credited against the “debt” they purportedly owed, and the aliens were told that police or immigration authorities would be summoned if they attempted to leave.

“The victims in this case were rescued after a concerned member of the community reported the tragic working and living conditions to officials,” said Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The FBI will continue to spread awareness by educating the community on how to identify the signs of labor exploitation, and urges the public to report suspected cases of illegal harboring or human trafficking.”

In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Collins ordered the Morales to pay $600,000 in restitution to nine Filipino victims who were not properly paid for the work they performed.

The FBI arrested Maximino and Melinda Morales on March 30, 2010 when special agents executed search warrants in Paso Robles.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received assistance from the California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division and the United States Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

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Romanian Ioan Clamparu sentenced to 30 years in jail by Spanish court for human trafficking

Romanian Ioan Clamparu, one of the targets of Interpol’s Operation Infra-Red, was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison by a court in Madrid, Spain, for crimes including human trafficking and procuring for prostitution. The 30-year stretch was the maximum sentence requested by the prosecutors. The human trafficking network he created  is believed to have resulted in more than 100 Romanian women being forced into prostitution in Spain between 2000 and 2004.

Ioan Clamparu, 42, was also sentenced to 13 years in jail in Romania. He was under investigation by the Romanian judicial authorities for eight years but was arrested in Spain in October 2011, following close collaboration between Interpol’s National Central Bureaus in Romania and Spain, reads an Interpol statement.

He was accused of heading one of the biggest Romanian mafia groups, with dealings in human trafficking. He has been on the run from Romania for the last eight years. Ioan Clamparu was one of 450 international fugitives targeted during Interpol’s Operation Infra-Red in July 2010.

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600 Ugandan girls victims of human trafficking in Malaysia

At least 600 Ugandan girls have been forced into Malaysia’s sex trade in what has become a human trafficking epidemic, a foreign diplomat has said.

Hajah Noraihan, the Malaysian consul to Uganda, said despite an early warning to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008 when the number of trafficked girls stood at 30, the constant flow of victims has not slowed.

She says Malaysian intelligence indicates 10 girls continue to fall through the cracks of Uganda’s immigration and labour systems daily.

“Nothing was done and this is what happened,” Ms Noraihan said.

Malaysia, a country known for its poor human trafficking record although it has traditionally been within the Asian region, is currently on a US state department watch list for not having shown adequate evidence of its efforts to combat the scourge.

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Deaf Girl Tells Court Of Decade Of ‘Rape And Beatings’

The victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the jury of almost a decade of alleged abuse after being trafficked into the UK from Pakistan in 2000, supposedly to work as a domestic help- though aged only 10 at the time.  The orphaned youngster was slapped, beaten, sexually abused and hit with a rolling pin while forced to work for no money during the day, the court heard.  At night the victim was made to sleep on the concrete floor, the door bolted.

Her alleged abusers were Ilyas Ashar, 83, and his wife, Tallat Ashar, 66, who deny charges of false imprisonment, human trafficking, sexual offences, violence and benefit fraud. The girl told of her treatment while at their home on Cromwell Road in Eccles, Salford, Greater Manchester. … The victim’s true age is not known but it is thought she was aged between 10 and 12 when she came to the UK.

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