News/US: Honduras says immigrant children used in drug trade

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Subject: News/US: Honduras says immigrant children used in drug trade
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Mon Feb 14 2000 - 09:22:11 EST


Honduras says immigrant children used in drug trade

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Honduran children who immigrate to
the United States are used by gangs who force them to sell drugs on city
streets in the United States and Canada, a Honduran official said on
Wednesday.

"These children -- like many who leave every day to head north -- enter the
United States where they are captured by organized criminals," said the
consular affairs chief of the Honduran foreign relations ministry,
Francisco Martinez.

He said the children operate in West Coast cities of the United States,
such as Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, and if they get in trouble with
the law they head further north to Canada where they seek political asylum.

While the children go through the 2-3 year process to obtain political
asylum in Canada, they continue to work as drug dealers, he said.

"These children are exploited by drug gangs," he said.

Casa Alianza, a nonprofit group that works with street children and on
child welfare cases in Central America and elsewhere, estimates that some
200 Honduran kids work as street sellers for drug gangs in Vancouver,
British Columbia.

Reina Ochoa, Honduras's director of immigration policy, said recently that
foreign drug gangs that operate in Central America recruit kids and take
them illegally to Canada to become involved in the drug trade.

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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