The recent kidnapping and sexual assault of a Honduran migrant woman sent from the United States to Mexico underscores the extreme dangers that migrants face from corrupt security forces and organized crime groups south of the US border.
A migrant woman from Honduras was kidnapped and sexually assaulted after federal police agents in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juárez abducted her and handed her over to a criminal group in the early morning hours of June 10, El Diario de Juárez reported.
After her first immigration hearing in the United States, authorities sent the woman to Mexico to await her US court hearings for asylum. This controversial policy -- implemented by the administration of US President Donald Trump and known as the “Remain in Mexico” program -- sends asylum seekers to Mexico while they wait for US immigration courts to decide their cases.
The kidnapping unfolded around 4:30 a.m. before dawn. The owner of the house that the migrant woman was staying in attempted to thwart her attackers. He was beaten, and along with his mother, who also came out to see what was happening, was kidnapped with the migrant woman, according to El Diario de Juárez.
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Federal Police then took them to a house where they were handed over to an unidentified criminal group.
The criminals demanded $6,000 in exchange for releasing the Honduran migrant woman, but ultimately released her after receiving $5,000 from the victim’s mother, who lives in the United States. The other man and his mother were released after paying 27,000 Mexican pesos (around $1,400), although the group initially demanded $10,000, according to El Diario de Juárez.
The anti-extortion unit of the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office received the victims on June 14, four days after their kidnapping.
The woman told prosecutors that one of her attackers put a gun to her head and raped her.
“He asked me if I knew what that sound was. I said 'yes,' and he told me that I had to do everything they said. He undressed me and penetrated me, then he left,” she said.
InSight Crime Analysis
The latest violent kidnapping, extortion and assault along the US-Mexico border is further proof that Mexico is a dangerous place for vulnerable migrants to wait out the US immigration system, which is overloaded, extremely backlogged and runs at a snail's pace.
Mexico recorded its most homicidal year on record in 2017. But the murder rate has continued to climb, reaching unprecedented levels again in 2018. And Mexico is on pace to set yet another record for murders this year.
What's more, Mexican migration officials have already been implicated in extorting migrants waiting in Mexico for their chance to make asylum claims in the United States.
To make matters worse, the recent abduction and sexual assault reaffirms longstanding concerns about the working relationship between corrupt state security forces and organized crime groups. Mexican police forces have regularly been at the service of the country’s criminal groups in the past.
However, Mexico isn’t the only country where asylum seekers are at a heightened risk of attack. A New Yorker investigation revealed that some 60 asylum seekers have been killed after being deported back to their homes in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In these cases, migrants are often murdered by the very people they were fleeing.
Earlier this year, for example, a deported Honduran migrant was shot and killed a little more than a week after returning to his gang-infested neighborhood in Honduras. In El Salvador, a transgender woman who sought asylum in the United States to escape death threats from the Barrio 18 street gang was later murdered after being deported.