Today’s Opinion: The price of human smuggling

POSTED: 04/20/11 12:33 PM

The much anticipated sentencing of a criminal gang involved in human smuggling went down without spectacular fireworks. The bottom line is that the defendants, who are with two exceptions men in their sixties, were convicted.

Though the sentences are not shocking, also because of up to 14 months sentence reductions granted for lengthy stays in police cells, the defendants were suitably impressed. One of them was even close to crying when Judge Keppels read his verdict.

But those crocodile tears ought to send a stern warning to others who contemplate a career in human smuggling. After all, the transports with the Jesus La on December 14 of last year ended in a human tragedy; the boat sank near Tortola and eight people drowned.

It is likely that the defendants will go on appeal, but one may well wonder what they will get out of that. In the face of overwhelming evidence, the Appeals Court will have little sympathy for belligerent defendants who deny all guilt, lie through their teeth, and want people to believe that they acted out of humanitarian considerations. Tell that to the refugees who paid up to $12,500 for a chance to arrive in the promised land but instead found a grave in the waters near Tortola.

The price of human smuggling is high, especially for refugees who fall in the hands of criminal organizations. Compared to that, the price the criminals pay is unfortunately rather moderate.

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