HomeWorldOne hundred Chilean gangs detected in the US operating under “criminal tourism”

One hundred Chilean gangs detected in the US operating under “criminal tourism”

Chilean travelers take advantage of the “Visa Waiver” benefit to go to the United States and commit various crimes in that country.

About one hundred criminal gangs made up of Chilean citizens have been detected operating in several cities in the United States. California, Arizona, Florida, Virginia, New York, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan are the states in which these Chilean criminals dedicated to robbing homes in wealthy neighborhoods have been detected, according to the Oakland police.

The discovery was made as a result of investigations carried out after the capture of some of these criminals with Visa Waiver, which has led to complaints to the Chilean government, which has put its hands on its head when it saw one of the benefits of visa granted to him by the United States government.

Sheriff Michael Bouchard of Oakland County, in the state of Michigan in the midwestern United States, spoke this Monday before the authorities and representatives of his community about one of the security problems that concern them most: the so-called “criminal tourism.” ”.

He explained that it was incorrect to frame this phenomenon as South American, since Chile was the only country in the region with the Visa Waiver that allows you to stay 90 days in the United States without paperwork.

“It is estimated that Chilean gangs have more than one hundred teams operating permanently in the country, with teams of between three to six people,” said the local authority, who added that each of the members of these teams has a defined role in the thefts.

Modus operandi of Chilean gangs

The modus operandi, said the sheriff, was to attack houses, preferably unoccupied and in wealthy neighborhoods, taking from them easily reduced objects such as jewelry.

In his county, the homes of 3 CEOs and senior automotive executives had been burglarized. To steal the jewelry, the thieves had even taken entire safes out of the homes, security videos showed.

The crimes were generally carried out dressed in black, with what the local press had described as ninja-type suits. In other cases they wore white overalls.

Visa Waiver in danger

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of certain participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less, without applying for a visa.

The member countries of this Program are: Germany, Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, South Korea, Croatia, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Israel , Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Poland, United Kingdom and Czech Republic.

Chile entered the program in 2014, but the hundreds of cases of thefts detected in the US, committed by Chilean citizens in recent years, led, in June 2023, to representatives of the Republican Party to pressure to remove Chile from the program, citing reluctance. of the local authorities to provide criminal and police records of those who were traveling.

Last April, the US ambassador in Santiago Bernadette Meehan said in an interview on Radio Cooperativa that “I will not say that Chile is exempt from the risk of leaving the program.”

That same month, the ambassador said that improving the status of the Visa Waiver program required “technology and being able to facilitate the automatic exchange of data and not rely solely on manual or word-of-mouth transmission of information.”

“Obviously, we have all seen reports of continued criminal activity by Chilean gangs in the United States, and that remains a real concern for us. But the increase and improvement in information sharing and the relationship with law enforcement has been very significant,” he said.


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