Tracking a suspected migrant smuggler from Senegal to Brazil

15 February 2022
Senegalese man, 42, is accused of people smuggling, money laundering and document fraud.

BRASILIA, Brazil – Brazil’s Federal Police have arrested a 42-year old Senegalese national suspected of running a transatlantic smuggling ring.

The arrest represents a major success for Senegal’s national police, which had been tracking the suspect and his associates since 2020. The group’s activities involved smuggling migrants by air from Senegal to Brazil, often via Bolivia.

In August 2020, authorities shared case details, including the group’s modus operandi, with INTERPOL’s Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants unit, as well as the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus in Brasilia and La Paz.

Brazilian authorities tracked down the suspect a few weeks later. INTERPOL then worked closely with Senegal to secure the publication of a Red Notice on charges of migrant smuggling, money laundering and identity document fraud.

No extradition agreement

With the suspect identified and located, authorities in both countries, with the support of INTERPOL, got to work on obtaining the documents required by Brazilian law for his arrest. Without an extradition agreement in place between Senegal and Brazil, however, these documents had to be sent through diplomatic channels, a much longer and complicated process.

For 18 months, INTERPOL closely followed the case and coordinated meetings in order to facilitate information sharing and mutual assistance.

In late January 2022, with all the necessary documents in hand, Brazilian police were able to obtain an arrest warrant based on the Red Notice, and proceed with his arrest. He is now in police custody awaiting extradition to Senegal.

Ilana de Wild, INTERPOL’s Director for Organized and Emerging Crime, said: “This case highlights the complexity in securing the arrest of international fugitives. Senegal’s request for an INTERPOL Red Notice played a central role in the arrest of the fugitive, but it is our cooperation and collective determination to disrupt migrant smuggling that will ultimately bring him to justice.”

A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action. Red Notices are published by INTERPOL at the request of a member country, and must comply with INTERPOL’s Constitution and Rules.