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Panama’s SENAFRONT rescues nearly 500 irregular migrants

Panama City, Oct 8 (Prensa Latina) In the last two months, Panama's National Border Service (SENAFRONT) rescued 499 irregular migrants abandoned in the Darien jungle, an official statement referred on Sunday.

The briefing detailed that criminal gangs and human traffickers who control the trails in the jungle border with Colombia had left most of the migrants to their own fate.

SENAFRONT seized 12 boats and arrested 19 individuals for the crime of human trafficking, most of whom were being transported across the Panamanian Caribbean and rivers of the country.

Authorities’ investigations unfolded that the human traffickers alias “coyotes” sometimes abandon migrants in dangerous areas, after demanding more money to their relatives or friends, and refusing to pay the new transport fee of around US$400 and US$500.

So far this year, some 417,100 people mostly Venezuelans, Haitians and Ecuadorians have crossed the Darien jungle.

Among the migrants rescued are children of various ages (some 40,000 as of past September), who must cope with exposure to the sun, heavy rain and flooding during the rainy season.

Darien is a rugged, mountainous and densely vegetated terrain where tropical diseases such as dengue, Zika and malaria are reported. In addition to poisonous snakes and spiders, travelers encounter illegal armed groups, criminal gangs or other human trafficking groups.