HomeNewsBrief‘Drug Cartels a Greater Threat to Migrants Than US Border Patrol’
BRIEF

‘Drug Cartels a Greater Threat to Migrants Than US Border Patrol’

HUMAN SMUGGLING / 21 MAY 2013 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

Migrants trying to illegally enter the United States through Mexico say that they face more danger from drug cartels than immigration enforcement, highlighting the scale to which criminal groups are able to prey on the constant flow of poor and desperate people moving through their territory.

Speaking from a shelter in the Mexican border city of Matamoros, a migrant traveling from Honduras to the US told The Associated Press that the journey was difficult “not so much because of Border Patrol” but because of the drug cartels.

The threat is so great that migrants staying at the Matamoros shelter are asked to leave during the day. Otherwise, when grouped together, they are viewed as easy pickings for criminal groups operating in the area, according to one person who worked at the refuge. The staff member recounted one incident in which armed men kidnapped 15 people from the shelter in a single night. At other times, staff members have had to eject suspected members of criminal groups who’d infiltrated the refuge in order to recruit volunteers.

InSight Crime Analysis

Migrants attempting the dangerous journey from Central America and Mexico into the US are a natural target for criminal organizations, who exploit their desperation and vulnerability in numerous ways.  Asides from running their own human smuggling networks, criminal groups like the Zetas are known to have extorted “coyotes” and migrants who move through their territory, or “plaza.” Migrants also face the threat of being kidnapped, or being forced to work as drug mules or perform other jobs for the cartels

Criminal organizations are not the only threat facing migrants. There are some documented cases of Mexican immigration officials selling migrants to criminal groups

Resistance is met with violent reprisals — “You pay or you die,” said a kidnapped and tortured migrant describing his experience to NPR in 2011. In one infamous massacre, 72 migrants were slaughtered by the Zetas in Tamaulipas in 2010 – a massacre that was followed by the discovery of a series of mass graves in the same state the following year, in which more than 200 bodies believed to have been migrants were recovered. According to the AP, around 70 bodies of migrants were discovered by authorities in the Rio Bravo region, adjacent to Matamoros, during the first six months of this fiscal year, more than double that of the same period last year.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

HOMICIDES / 13 JAN 2011

Last year was the bloodiest year on record since Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, took office four years ago. …

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 29 FEB 2016

Cooperation between Mexican and U.S. authorities on arms trafficking has dropped off in recent years, even as traffickers continue to…

MERIDA INITIATIVE / 14 DEC 2011

Mexico's secretary of foreign affairs has said that the United States’ multi-million dollar foreign assistance package known as…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…