On the 14th of November 2020, the French Border Police (SPAF) stopped a human trafficking incident from taking place. This was done upon the request of and in collaboration with the Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling Unit of KPSM and the Public Prosecutors Office. The persons were presumably being transported to the BVI/USVI. The persons, including two small children, were to be smuggled in the middle of the night to Tortola, putting them in a very dangerous situation. In the past people being smuggled have died during these types of illegal crossings.
On the 18th of November 2020, KPSM arrested three persons for their involvement in this incident. Based in the information gathered thus far, the Public Prosecutor suspects that two of the three persons, M.R. of Dominican nationality and S. of Bulgarian nationality, played a major role in the operation. There is also a serious suspicion that S. was involved in another human smuggling operation in February 2020. A co-defendant in that case, P., was recently convicted of human smuggling and sentenced to 38 months in prison. Yesterday, the Investigative-Judge decided that M.R. and S. will both remain in pre-trial detention for another 60 days.
Human smuggling is a very serious crime with an undermining character. Persons can enter and leave Sint Maarten without being checked, which brings with it a number of safety risks. Besides that, human smuggling goes hand in hand with other crimes like corruption, illegal employment, tax evasion and exploitation. The main motive of people involved in organizing human smuggling operations is financial gain. For the persons involved in the illegal transport of people and their co-conspirators, it is a revenue model, regardless of the consequences. The Public Prosecutors Office and the Unit Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling, a collaboration between KPSM and the Koninklijke Marechaussee, are therefore working closely together to combat human smuggling to, from, and on Sint Maarten.