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A340 grounded in France due to suspected trafficking

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A340 grounded in France due to suspected trafficking

Old 22nd Dec 2023, 15:16
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A340 grounded in France due to suspected trafficking

A Legend Airlines A340 has been stopped at Vatry airport in Eastern France; the 303 passengers are suspected victims of human trafficking. BBC story here, French coverage here.

If proven, this sounds like a major operation. What precedents are there for intercepting entire planeloads of trafficked individuals?
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Old 22nd Dec 2023, 16:44
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the BBC report says "some are suspected" not all - God knows why a load of Romanians are going to Nicaragua - but then they come to the UK for work so who knows?

Stopping in Vatry was probably a mistake - if they'd routed through a larger airport no-one would have noticed
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Old 22nd Dec 2023, 16:46
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The BBC report says they were Indians flying from the UAE, not Romania
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Old 22nd Dec 2023, 19:42
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There must be more to this story.

Looking up the 340 fleet of Legend Airlines on Flightradar, it seems that they have flown Fujairah to Managua and back multiple times before with an intermediate stop at Vatry both ways. Of course, this is rather a niche route with not that much O/D demand on either end, but this alone does not make a route susceptible to human trafficking - many such routes are flown all over the world and some airlines make a good living off them.

So where does the illegal stuff come in here? Word is that flights crossing the EU or other destination countries without landing in them have occasionally seen passengers fake medical emergencies to force a landing in these countries and request admission. This seems to be not the case here as the technical stop has been intended and planned, and none of the linked press reports seem to indicate any application for asylum by passengers or crew on said flight(s). Consequently, the intent of the passengers may well indeed have been to arrive at Managua.

Also, the previous flights on the route crossed not only New York Oceanic, but also the Miami OAC appendix that stretches north of Cuba to say W68°. So would the US authorities have been aware of the PNRs of the passengers on board and be able to call a halt to this operation if the next stage of their journey was to have been the trip northeast across Honduras, Belize and Mexico?

(scratches head)
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Old 22nd Dec 2023, 20:48
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The French story now adds that two passengers have been arrested "to determine whether their role was different to that of others on the aircraft", and that the company wants its A340 released.
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Old 22nd Dec 2023, 23:17
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Originally Posted by Asturias56
Stopping in Vatry was probably a mistake - if they'd routed through a larger airport no-one would have noticed
Does appear they normally were going through CDG. But indeed a strange operation. Both their old Romanian-registered A340s seem to have been engaged on a multiple flights shuttle operation Fujairah to Managua; seemingly the other A340 was going through CDG the other way at the same time. This appears the fifth such flight in December.
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Old 23rd Dec 2023, 00:10
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Managua is used as arrival point for a further illegal crossing of US border. US have recently banned airlines from operating from various Caribbean islands to Managua.
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Old 23rd Dec 2023, 09:59
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Originally Posted by CargoOne
Managua is used as arrival point for a further illegal crossing of US border. US have recently banned airlines from operating from various Caribbean islands to Managua.
This also what the local rumor says , Tip off from the US..
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Old 23rd Dec 2023, 11:23
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Further updates from French news (in French).

The two people under arrest are said to have had large amounts of money and multiple passports.
The passengers include 13 unaccompanied minors.
The tip-off is said to have come from an NGO.
A reporter in India says this is the "fourth" case of "donkeying" (slow but sure) migration from India to the US via Central America.
A French lawyer says this would indeed be the first case of an entire planeload of migrants being stopped.

The view from India. Coincidentally, a Bollywood film on the subject, Dunki, premiered on December 21st,
The movie sheds light on illegal immigration -- specifically the 'Donkey Flight', a method used for 'backdoor entry' into the USA, UK and Canada.
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Old 24th Dec 2023, 16:16
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10 passengers are now requesting asylum in France.
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Old 24th Dec 2023, 16:59
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Also 30 (indeed 30!) “crew” on board…
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Old 24th Dec 2023, 17:11
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Originally Posted by sarah737
Also 30 (indeed 30!) “crew” on board…
Allegedly half for each leg of the flight.
At least one (non-arrested) passenger has apparently had their detention ruled unlawful due to the delay in getting a judge to hear the case for continuing to detain them, and this is likely to set a precedent for all the rest.
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Old 24th Dec 2023, 18:13
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Originally Posted by Eutychus
Allegedly half for each leg of the flight..
Even 15 crew members for one leg on a 340 is suspiciously high.
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Old 25th Dec 2023, 04:22
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Originally Posted by SpGo
Even 15 crew members for one leg on a 340 is suspiciously high.
Well, were those 'crew members' part of the GenDec ?? If so, then also the airline is to be investigated.
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Old 25th Dec 2023, 06:14
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Legend Air Romania

If you check their 340 fleet regs on flightradar24 you can easyly see that both 340s just do runs between Fujairah and Managua. Quite suspicious and I do not believe that they carry sand from the desert.
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Old 25th Dec 2023, 06:22
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Originally Posted by mumsilein49
If you check their 340 fleet regs on flightradar24 you can easyly see that both 340s just do runs between Fujairah and Managua. Quite suspicious and I do not believe that they carry sand from the desert.
FranceInfo says the aircraft is due to depart for India (sic) this morning at the latest (other media sources speculate that it could be Nicaragua or the Emirates; some ten people are said to have requested asylum; the passengers claim to have been going to visit lakes in Nicaragua as tourists for a week).

Last edited by Eutychus; 25th Dec 2023 at 06:33.
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Old 25th Dec 2023, 07:12
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This poses an interesting legal case. Most likely the passengers paid for the trip and boarded willingly. To what extent does France have a case here, unless Nicaragua did request an intervention ? Of course the plane is in their jurisdiction but those poor souls did not want to enter the country or commit in crime.

Obviously I am not naive about what it most likely going on here I am just wondering when does a travel agent morph into a human trafficker ..
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Old 25th Dec 2023, 08:14
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"This poses an interesting legal case....."

It sure looks that way according to reports in the French press.

The passengers have been held in the terminal at Vatry ever since arrival, being fed, watered and sleeping on camping beds. In the meantime there have been grumbles whether the correct legal processes have been carried out/been carried out quickly enough.

I've heard much the same this AM as Eutychus -as many as twelve of the passengers have applied for asylum in France, rumours are the aircraft may leave Vatry this PM, possibly in the direction of India.



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Old 25th Dec 2023, 10:32
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Originally Posted by atakacs
This poses an interesting legal case. Most likely the passengers paid for the trip and boarded willingly. To what extent does France have a case here, unless Nicaragua did request an intervention ? Of course the plane is in their jurisdiction but those poor souls did not want to enter the country or commit in crime.
One may ask what authority US have to ban non-FAA carriers to operate from various non-US points to Managua? Nevertheless it did happened and carriers have complied promptly… looking on the map, Nicaragua does not look like a logical point of entry but I guess it is the only country in Central America not asking anything on arrival. Even Salvador is better these days
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Old 25th Dec 2023, 13:28
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FR24 has the aircraft on its way back to Fujairah.
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