By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 5 (Reuters) – Authorities in Argentina arrested six Syrians who flew into the South American country on false Greek passports, a spokesman for the federal police told Reuters on Saturday, adding that the bogus travel documents were probably obtained in Turkey.
The six, including one minor, were taken into custody at a downtown Buenos Aires hotel on Friday after landing at the city’s Ezeiza International Airport on Thursday, the spokesman said.
A spate of detentions in South and Central America over recent weeks show the region has become a route for Syrians fleeing war in their homeland.
Less than three weeks ago, five Syrian men who had paid smugglers $10,000 each to travel through Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica were detained in Honduras as they tried to head north to the United States.
Those arrested on Friday were unarmed and charged only with using false travel documents, said the spokesman. A court hearing has been set for Wednesday, as Monday and Tuesday are public holidays in Argentina. The detainee under the age of 18 was undergoing psychological counseling.
“No more information will be released until they make statements before a judge,” said the spokesman, who did not disclose the origin of the flight the Syrians took to Ezeiza.
“They are being very cooperative,” he said.
The earlier cases sparked alarm among some U.S. lawmakers after it emerged at least one of the attackers involved in the deadly shootings and suicide bombings in Paris last month may have entered Europe among migrants registered in Greece.
In October Brazil detained eight Iraqi nationals who police said were traveling on false Greek passports they had obtained in Turkey. A trickle of immigrants also reach the U.S. land border from other countries fighting Islamist insurgencies.