New Delhi [India], July 11 (ANI): The countries offering visa-on-arrival service to Indian nationals have been exploited as 'Donkey Routes' by agents for people who endeavour to reach the United States and Canada.

In a detailed investigation done by Delhi police, Bureau of Immigration and other security agencies, it was found that agents exploit passengers by sending them to countries offering visa-on-arrival to Indian nationals, organizing routes that facilitate illegal border crossings into destination countries.

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A senior officer informed that a common tactic involves sending passengers with fake Schengen visas to accessible European countries like Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan. From there, they are routed through Central American or Caribbean countries such as Guatemala and Costa Rica to the USA.

"These policies are intended for tourists but are being misused to facilitate illegal immigration," said the officer.

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Usha Rangnani, DCP of IGI Airport said that in the first six months of 2024, Delhi Police have arrested 11 such agents who were involved in sending passengers through donkey routes.

The officer further informed that recently, a case was registered where passenger was deported from USA, being illegal migrant.

She disclosed that he had gone to the USA in 2017 by donkey route with the help of two agents who had charged Rs. 20 lakhs from him for this job.

"These agents arranged the entire journey, directing him through Dubai, Cuba, Peru, Nicaragua, Mexico, and finally to the USA. Throughout this harrowing journey, the passenger went through severe hardships, often going hungry and sleepless. His original passport was confiscated by the agents, and despite reaching the USA and securing work there, his life took a turn in 2023 when he got into a quarrel in Chicago which led to his imprisonment for approximately nine months. Eventually, as an illegal immigrant, he was deported, rendering all his efforts and the risks he took to reach the USA ultimately futile,' it added.

It was further informed that 'Donkey routes' are also used to illegally immigrate passengers into Asian countries as well.

In other cases that were reproted, two Rajasthan-based agents were arrested who arranged the journey of the passenger to Thailand on a tourist visa. After reaching Thailand, the agent further arranged his illegal entry into Malaysia via Donkey Route, taking advantage of their porous borders.

The passenger stayed in Malaysia and started working there. Thereafter, in order to give his entry into Malaysia a genuine look the agent fake stamped his Passport with Immigration stamps of Thailand. After some time, when the passenger returned to India to meet his family, he got caught at the Airport by the Immigration Officers as it was noticed that one Visa on Arrival (VoA) stamp of Thailand dated October 2022 was found affixed on one page of the passport of the pax, whereas, the passport issue date was May 2023, which confirmed VoA stamp as fake, it added.

The Indira Gandhi International Airport Police have apprehended 108 fraudulent agents in response to escalating incidents of visa and passport fraud facilitating illegal immigration.

The IGI Airport Police's proactive measures and decisive actions against fraudulent agents demonstrate its commitment to preserving national security and upholding the integrity of immigration processes.

Through collaborative efforts and comprehensive strategies, the IGI Airport Police remains steadfast in its mission to combat organized crime and protect public trust in air travel. The public is urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the Police to help curb this menace. (ANI)

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