Chilean gov't expels 21 Colombians who committed crimes

Santiago, Jan 3 (epa-efe).- The Chilean government on Thursday expelled 21 Colombians convicted of crimes in Chilean courts, a senior official said.

Mijail Bonito, the legal adviser on immigration matters within the Chilean Interior Ministry, told reporters that 19 men and two women - of whom 14 were convicted of drug trafficking, two for homicide and the rest for crimes of aggravated or violent robbery - were deported.

A Chilean air force transport plane took off Thursday from Santiago with 14 of the deportees aboard and was scheduled to make a stop in the northern city of Iquique to pick up the other seven, after which it was to continue its journey to Bogota.

Escorting the deportees were 28 Chilean police.

The action is part of the Sebastian Piñera government's immigration policy, which also includes measures such as repatriating Haitians to their homeland and a program to regularize the residence of foreigners in Chile.

Altogether, 2,049 people were expelled from Chilean territory in 2018, according to Interior Ministry figures.

Most of those deportees were from Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, and drug crimes were the most common infractions they committed, with almost 1,600 cases.

Those expelled are banned from returning to Chile for a period of 10 years.

Chile, with a population of 18.2 million people, has roughly 1.1 million immigrants on its territory, according to official figures.