A Dubai-Nicaragua flight carrying 200 passengers halted at an airport in Germany just two days before France grounded a flight carrying 303 Indians, including 96 Gujaratis, at Vatry airport over suspicion of human smuggling. Of them, about 60 were from Gujarat.
It has emerged that the flyers were from Anand, Mehsana, Kalol, and Ahmedabad.
The Times of India reported that they travelled to Honduras with the assistance of donkers after arriving in Nicaragua. Donkers are the term used locally to describe those who assist individuals in entering the US.
Some of these illegal immigrants had stayed in Mexico, while some may have crossed into the US, the report added.
Following a tip-off, France grounded the flight carrying 303 passengers bound for Nicaragua on December 21. On December 24, the aircraft received permission to depart for Mumbai by a court established at the Vatry airport. But only 276 of them landed in Mumbai.
Gujarat’s CID (crime) police asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for assistance in gathering data regarding agents who had tried to transfer passengers from Gujarat to the US via a donkey flight that landed at Vatry airport in France.
Sanjay Kharat, superintendent of police, CID-Crime and Railways, in charge of the case, said cops questioned 55 passengers who returned to Mumbai from Vatry.
“A majority of them have not studied beyond Class 12. Each of them admitted to having agreed to pay Rs 60 lakh to Rs 80 lakh to the local immigration agents to help them cross into the US illegally after reaching Nicaragua via Dubai,” he was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
“These agents had asked the passengers to pay the money only after reaching the US. The handlers were to take the passengers to the US border from Nicaragua and help them sneak into the US. It was also revealed that the agents had booked air tickets for these passengers and given $1,000 to $3,000 per passenger to deal with any emergency.”
According to the agents’ plan, the passengers landed in Dubai from Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi between December 10 and 20.
Then, they boarded the Nicaragua-bound aircraft of a private airline at the Fujairah International Airport on December 21, the CID statement revealed.