Just a few months after the highly successful human smuggling investigation, “La Transferencia,” Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) special agents assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo supported a similar case that turned out to be the largest coordinated operation in the country’s history.
In July 2018, the ARSO-I office in Santo Domingo began coordinating with Dominican authorities on an investigation that would reveal the operations, methods, and individuals involved in a major human smuggling ring. The transnational criminal organization, based in the Dominican Republic, charged between $22,000 and $27,000 per client to smuggle individuals into the United States and other countries. The ARSO-I team and their Dominican National Police counterparts estimated that the criminals smuggled approximately 80 clients per year.
The organization used at least eight smuggling routes through the Bahamas, Mexico, Haiti, and Puerto Rico to facilitate their crimes. They further hid their illicit activities by providing high-quality fraudulent visas and passports from multiple countries, including the United States, Venezuela, Haiti, Panama, and elsewhere.
On March 27, 2019, DSS agents assigned to the Santo Domingo Regional Security Office and hundreds of Dominican National Police (DNP) officers conducted a pre-dawn, countrywide operation, “Bahamas II,” against the transnational criminal organization. The team closely coordinated the effort with several U.S. law enforcement agencies that provided critical support to the operation.
The team seized a significant quantity of evidence that demonstrated the human smuggling ring’s sophistication, including more than 40 authentic and falsified passports and visas from various countries, more than 1,500 official stamps from different government institutions, over 50 notary seals, birth certificates, and various types of equipment used to produce fraudulent documents.
The successful operation led to the arrest of 29 individuals, including seven corrupt immigration inspectors, three airport security officers, and 10 felons previously deported from the United States. According to the DNP, this operation was the largest coordinated operation in the country’s history.
DSS supports similar transnational investigations and operations at 275 posts in more than 170 countries and at 29 offices in the United States.