Murder, rape, kidnapping, extortion, robbery, forced prostitution, human trafficking.
Distinguished prosecutors and law enforcement officers from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Panama and colleagues from the United States Department of Justice, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security.
These are some of the crimes that you prevent with your work and effort.
During the last year more than 2.3 million people were detained at the southern border of the United States.
As soon as migrants leave their land with the intention of reaching the United States, they enter an uncertain and insecure shadow world.
These people entrust their lives to strangers, “the infamous coyotes” who flout the law and the need of the most vulnerable
Migrant women are especially vulnerable to exploitation.
They make up about 20 percent of the migrant population.
And we know that many times coyotes manipulate migrants who become victims of trafficking.
No one would leave their country, nor would they leave their children, their family, or their home, if they could live with dignity in their land. Thus they put their lives in the hands of people who profit from the suffering of others with total disregard for human life.
These organizations cross borders and that is what gives them an advantage over us.
That is why all countries have to work together to investigate and eliminate these illegal human trafficking networks.
This work cannot be done alone.
We have to cooperate, sharing information on cases, trends, conducting joint investigations, and sharing good practices.
It is difficult to share case information.
But this challenge is so great that we need to cross barriers.
The task is not easy.
And criminal organizations know it!
But we have to if we want to save millions of people every year.
And that depends on each one of you.
In 2010, in Tamaulipas, Mexico, 72 migrants from Central America, Brazil and India, on their way to the United States, were kidnapped and killed by the Los Zetas Cartel.
And one of the most recent incidents was in June of this year when 53 migrants suffocated to death inside an abandoned container in San Antonio, Texas.
These were not the first and sadly may not be the last victims of these criminal organizations.
We appreciate the excellent work you do. We know that they are targeting criminals who are engaged in human smuggling and trafficking.
I must applaud the case of Operación Chakal.
In 2020, the Smuggling and Trafficking Unit of the Honduran Public Ministry, led by attorney Martha Patricia González, in coordination with Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, managed to dismantle a migrant smuggling network.
This network was transporting about 100 people a week from Panama to the United States.
Most of the migrants were Honduran Nicaraguans, Indians, Africans, and Cubans.
These people paid between 8 thousand to 12 thousand dollars for their transportation.
Among those arrested were a Commissioner, a Sub-Inspector and several members of the Honduran Police.
This operation was thanks to the mutual cooperation that took place in regional traffic meetings such as the one we are starting today.
This regional meeting on human trafficking advances a common purpose among all the countries represented here.
The Government of the United States is committed to preserving and strengthening multilateral anti-trafficking and human trafficking efforts with the Government of Honduras and neighboring countries.
Once again, many thanks to all of you for joining us today at this regional traffic meeting.
I am confident that this regional meeting will save lives and prevent these criminal groups from continuing to victimize more people.
While you are here, I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful island.
I arrived in Honduras in April.
And this is my first visit to Roatan.
There is no better reason for this first trip than to be here in the fight against human trafficking networks.
Good luck and success!
Millions of people are counting on you!