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Colombia deports Chinese illegals

October 16, 2007 |  6:51 pm

A busload of Chinese tourists cruising along an isolated mountain road in southwestern Colombia looked suspicious to Colombian cops — with good reason. Police who stopped the northbound  bus at a checkpoint on the Panamerican Highway south of Popayan on Monday found the 30 "tourists" to be illegal immigrants trying to make their way to the United States.

The itinerary of the group, which included 12 minors, shows the lengthy, serpentine paths that Chinese are willing to follow to reach the United States. They apparently disembarked in Peru, then made their way up through Ecuador and into Colombia, avoiding detection by border officials. They were en route  to the Colombian port city of Buenaventura and on to Panama when they were seized.

In the immigrants' possession, police found $1.8 million in cash.

Earlier this year, Colombia  served as a short-lived trampoline for illegal Chinese immigrants headed for the States when in January it began allowing Chinese to enter the country without a visa. The country reimposed the visa requirement in May after noticing a spike in Chinese tourists who entered but never officially left, the assumption being they clandestinely departed for the U.S. Several months ago, authorities found 160 Chinese illegals crammed into several houses in suburban Bogota, apparently awaiting an opportunity to be hustled north.

Posted by Chris Kraul in Bogota