Argentina Authorities Free 202 Illegal Workers

Published: 14 June 2013


Argentine authorities freed 202 Colombians forced to work in inhumane conditions and simultaneously arrested the 23 Colombians suspected of recruiting them, highlighting Argentina’s efforts to combat trafficking and forced labor.

Police arrested the Colombians, including the alleged head of the criminal organization, in a huge operation that involved 500 officers making 72 raids in more than 10 provinces.

The workers, lured to Argentina with the promise of jobs, were illegally held and forced to work in dismal conditions in a plastics factory without registration, social security, or healthcare.

“Between 2009 and 2011, 3,000 Colombians entered the country illegally,” said Siomara Ayeran, director general of customs in Argentina.

According to the US Department of State, Argentina is a “source, transit, and destination country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.” The Argentine government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for eliminating trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so. They identified a record number of trafficking victims last year, most of them brought in for labor.

Over the last year authorities freed 45 Bolivians from textile workshops in Argentina and 16 Chinese victims near the Uruguayan border.

The government has focused on strengthening anti-trafficking law enforcement, specifically through increased prosecutions and convictions. The efforts of NGOs, the media, and certain officials have helped to create a watchdog force, reporting unaddressed levels of complicity in human trafficking by provincial and local officials.

Those arrested are accused of trafficking in persons and face four-15 years in prison.