Authorities in Honduras have detained “five Syrian nationals who were trying to reach the United States using stolen Greek passports” and, as Fox reports, the five “Syrians were trying to arrive in the U.S. by land, presumably by traveling through Mexico:”
The group of Syrian men was held late on Tuesday in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa on arrival from Costa Rica and they were planning to head to the border with neighboring Guatemala. The passports had been doctored to replace the photographs with those of the Syrians, police said.
Also according to Fox, the five “suspects remain in police custody.”
— Diario Perú21 (@Peru21pe) November 18, 2015
The newspaper reports that the passports were stolen in Greece and doctored to insert the photos of the Syrians into the document. Authorities have stated they are “on alert” for any additional suspect activity.
Honduran police spokesman Anibal Baca told reporters Wednesday that those arrested were “normal Syrians”:
We received information from (fellow) police services that these five Syrians left Greece and passed through Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and San Jose in Costa Rica before finally reaching Tegucigalpa.
Honduras is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees as of 1967, which mandates the nation by international law to accept Syrian refugees. It is one of 142 countries to have ratified the agreement.
Photos have also surfaced in South American media of the Syrians under arrest.
— FOROtv (@Foro_TV) November 18, 2015
As a Central American nation, Honduras is a significantly trafficked route for migrants attempting to make their way to the United States. Honduran officials have previously blamed the Obama administration’s “mixed messages” regarding illegal immigrants for encouraging human trafficking in Central and South America, as more are likely to attempt the dangerous trip north if given hope that they may be given legal status upon arriving in the United States.
Currently, Honduras has a refugee crisis of a different sort on its hands: hundreds, if not thousands, of Cuban refugees with legal Costa Rican visas are being banned from transiting through Honduras by the Honduran military. Reports of tear gas and water cannons used on the refugees to push them back have surfaced, as well as injuries sustained by the Cuban refugees, who are now being provided shelter by the Costa Rican government. Honduras is an ally of the Cuban communist dictatorship, while Costa Rica’s government is a staunch U.S. ally.