MONTEVIDEO – Ten travelers arrived at Montevideo’s Carrasco International Airport on a flight from Brazil carrying what turned out to be phony Israeli passports, Uruguayan authorities said.
Customs personnel were on the alert after receiving a report from Spanish police about “a similar case” in Madrid, the head of Uruguay’s immigration agency, Carlos del Puerto, told Efe.
The 10 ostensible Israelis were unable to respond to questions in Hebrew or English and declined to provide any information, Del Puerto said.
The migrants – seven women, two men and a child – were placed on a flight back to Brazil, he said.
Spanish police suspected the 10 travelers were Syrians who planned to apply for refugee status in Uruguay, where others fleeing Syria’s civil war have found haven.
Last November, authorities in Spain dismantled a ring that was charging up to 10,000 euros ($11,325) per person to smuggle Syrians into Europe.