According to Indian security agencies, the potential mastermind behind the Dubai-Nicaragua flight might be Shashi Kiran Reddy, implicated in the 2022 Dingucha case. Reddy, based in Hyderabad, was previously under scrutiny in the Dingucha case where a family from Gujarat tragically lost their lives attempting to enter the US.
Reddy is allegedly involved in running a human smuggling network for the past 15 years, arranging chartered flights from Dubai to Nicaragua. From Nicaragua, people are illegally transported to the US by road and sea. Out of the individuals detained in France, 96 are reported to be from Gujarat.
Recent information suggests that eight to ten Nicaragua-bound flights have been organized in the last two months to help around 800 Indians enter the US illegally. Nicaragua has become a popular destination for those seeking asylum in the US. Data from the US Customs and Border Patrol reveals a significant increase in the number of Indians attempting to enter the US illegally, with flights to Nicaragua or other countries with accessible travel documents being referred to as ‘donkey’ flights.
A charter plane carrying 276 passengers, mostly Indians, arrived in Mumbai early on Tuesday. The plane had been grounded in France for the past four days due to suspected human trafficking.
The Airbus A340 took off from Vatry airport near Paris at around 2:30 pm local time and landed in Mumbai shortly after 4 am, according to PTI reports. The flight originally had 303 Indian passengers, including 11 unaccompanied minors, when it landed at Vatry Airport on December 21. The plane, operated by Romanian charter company Legend Airlines, was headed to Nicaragua in Central America.
French authorities reported that 276 passengers were on board when the charter plane left for Mumbai. However, 25 people, including two minors, expressed their intention to apply for asylum and did not board the flight. Two individuals faced action from French authorities, appearing before a local court and being placed on assisted witness status.
The stranded passengers received meals and hot beverages in the Vatry airport hall, with makeshift beds and restrooms arranged for their comfort. The situation unfolded when French police intervened after the flight landed at Vatry for a technical stopover en route to Nicaragua from Dubai. A judicial investigation was initiated into the trip’s conditions and purpose, with a specialized unit in organized crime investigating suspected human trafficking.