Smugglers are increasingly using the Turks and Caicos Islands to help Syrian migrants cross into the United States and Canada, according to officials on the island.
While the British Overseas Territory has been having challenges over the years with other groups, authorities say that the trend is growing among Syrian migrants.
According to the TCI Sun, while to date only one Syrian national has been caught, authorities have said that “many” others have been able to elude law enforcement officials, successfully making it into the United States and even Canada.
The authorities note that sophisticated human smuggling rings illegally move migrants from Haiti across a number of Caribbean and Latin American countries, eventually helping them into the United States.
Most recently a Syrian national was nabbed by local immigration officials after he arrived on the island illegally by boat from Haiti.
A TCI court heard that Moin Alhashash began his journey in Syria, and later spent 14 months in Haiti.
While in Haiti, Alhashash solicited the help of a smuggler who he paid to help sneak him into the United States.
The court was told that the journey to the United States involved making stops in TCI and then the Bahamas.
Alhashash’s attorney told the court that his client hailed from one of the most dangerous areas of Syria, near Damascus, and fears returning.