Note: U.S. media version at end
Mexico returns 400 of 513 migrants found in trucks
MANUEL DE LA CRUZ,Associated Press
Posted: 05/19/2011 12:30:30 AM MDT
TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico (AP) - Mexican authorities returned about
400 migrants to their native Guatemala Wednesday, a day after they
and 113 other migrants were found hidden inside two trailer trucks.
Officials of Mexico's National Immigration Institute said the 113
migrants still being held are from nations that don't share borders
with Mexico or are Guatemalan minors or women who require special
The 400 Guatemalan migrants were returned to their country in air-
conditioned buses Wednesday, a stark contrast to the sweltering,
overcrowded trailers where they were found.
The remaining migrants include 47 from El Salvador, 32 from Ecuador,
12 from India, six from Nepal, three from China and one each from the
Dominican Republic and Honduras, as well as Guatemalan minors and women.
Initial reports suggested that one of those aboard the trucks was
Japanese, but officials later said that he was in fact Chinese.
"We have seen an increase in recent months" in the number of migrants
caught while being smuggled through southern Mexico, despite the fact
that "traffickers are charging increasingly high rates to move them
north," noted Juan Jose Gonzalez, the head of the nonprofit group
Southern Border Movement.
The immigrants found Tuesday said they had paid an average of $7,000
for the trip to the United States.
Mexican officials stressed during a visit to the southern border
state of Chiapas Wednesday that new immigration facilities and
inspection points are being built to fight migrant trafficking and
provide humane conditions for migrants.
Interior Secretary Francisco Blake Mora said "we are here to find
solutions and increase safety, legality and respect for the border
population and migrants from Mexico, Central America and other
countries," Blake Mora said.
The head of Mexico's Immigration Institute, Salvador Beltran Del Rio,
said the government is building seven new immigrant holding and
processing centers in southern Mexico.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
Trucks packed with migrants, the new business of millionaires
The UN estimates that smuggling of persons entering the U.S.
illegally from Mexico generates six thousand 600 million dollars
MEXICO CITY, May 19 .- The x-ray machines at checkpoints in southern
Mexico are detecting an illegal business that generates billions of
dollars annually: the illegal transport trucks, in conditions worse
than those of cattle.
The machines, installed less than two years at two strategic sites
have uncovered two large shipments of migrants, who paid from seven
thousand to 30 thousand U.S. dollars to be transferred to the U.S.,
depending on their point of origin.
The United Nations estimates that the smuggling of people entering
the U.S. illegally from Mexico generates six billion, 600 million
dollars annually, compared with between $10 to $29 billion (USD) from
That figure does not include the billions of dollars paid by
undocumented non- Mexicans who started the tour in Guatemala,
according to a 2010 report of the UN.
The 513 people detained on Tuesday in two trucks with trailers in the
state of Chiapas, bordering Guatemala, representing at least 3.5
million dollars. In January, another truck was found with 219 people.
"To my knowledge, this is the first time we see so many people, but
it confirms what we already knew," said Antonio Mazzitelli, the
regional branch of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. "More and more
people coming from all regions of the world and uses the corridor of
Central America and Mexico to reach the U.S. market."
Although most migrants were found Tuesday from Guatemala, also from
India, Nepal and China.
Smuggling has long been a business of small independent groups who
helped the immigrants to cross the border. Evade the authorities,
however, is now much more complicated in light of security measures
have been taken in recent years. At the same time, the routes used
have become more dangerous because they are controlled by drug gangs
who do not hesitate to kidnap and extort their customers to get more
The more difficult the journey, the higher the price. The Guatemalan
authorities, who estimate that between 300 and 500 illegal immigrants
into Mexico every day, say these people pay twice what was paid two
years ago, in some cases up to 10 thousand dollars.
"Strengthen security measures at the border and rising costs," said
the Rev. MuroVerzeletti, a Roman Catholic priest who heads the
ministry of Human Mobility in Guatemala. "Their business is being
facilitated by the same governments, which have no comprehensive
immigration policy and let the migrants into the hands of organized
Unlike those who smuggle drugs, weapons and other goods, smugglers
practically do not lose money if the migrants are caught by the
authorities or escape.
By 2006, 95% of people entering America illegally hired coyotes,
according to the UN report, which says that at present most of these
people are moved by truck.
In regard to the southern border of Mexico, no one knows exactly who
run the business. There are some who say that transport networks are
not connected with the brutal drug cartels, as the Zetas and the Gulf
Cartel, which focus on kidnapping and extortion.
Note: U.S. media version
Truckloads of migrants a billion-dollar business
May. 19, 2011 12:28 PM
MEXICO CITY - X-ray machines at checkpoints in southern Mexico are
capturing the ghostly outlines of a clandestine business worth
billions a year, people packed tighter than cattle and transported
like consumer goods in tractor trailers to the United States.
The machines in place for less than two years at two state police
checkpoints have led to the two largest hauls of migrants, who pay
anywhere from $7,000 to $30,000 for passage, depending where they start.
The United Nations estimates that smuggling migrants across Mexico's
border with the U.S. alone is a $6.6 billion business annually,
compared to an estimated the $10 billion to $29 billion in illegal
drug running. The migrant smuggling estimate doesn't include another
$1 billion paid by thousands of non-Mexicans to cross from Guatemala
and travel north, according to a 2010 U.N. report on transnational
The 513 people apprehended Tuesday in two trailers in the state of
Chiapas, bordering Guatemala, represented at least $3.5 million in
cargo. Another trailer filled with 219 people was discovered in January.
"As far as I know, this is the first time we've seen such big
numbers, but it does confirm what we already knew," said Antonio
Mazzitelli of the regional U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. "There are
more and more people coming from all other regions of the world using
the Central American and Mexican corridor to reach the North American
While the majority of migrants found Tuesday were Guatemalan, there
were also Indians, Nepalese and Chinese.
Smuggling in decades past was the business of small independent
operators who helped migrants cross once they reached the U.S.
border. But evading U.S. authorities has become much more difficult
with increased border enforcement in recent years. At the same time,
Mexico's migrant routes have become much more dangerous, controlled
by drug gangs that see new moneymaking opportunities in kidnapping
and extorting those who cross their territory.
The harder the trip, the higher the price. Guatemalan officials, who
estimate 300 to 500 undocumented nationals cross the border each day
into Mexico, say those migrants are paying double what they did two
years ago, as much as $10,000 for the hope of gaining work in the
"They put more restrictions on the border and the cost goes up," said
the Rev. Muro Verzeletti, a Roman Catholic priest who heads
Guatemala's Ministry for Human Mobility. "This business is being
facilitated by the same governments that do not have comprehensive
immigration policies and that throw migrants into a business (that
is) in the hands of organized crime."
Unlike those running drugs, guns or other contraband, people
smugglers lose virtually no upfront costs when migrants are
intercepted by authorities or escape.
By 2006, 95 percent of Mexicans crossing illegally into the U.S. were
paying smugglers, according the U.N. report, which says that most
migrants are now transported in trucks.
In the case of Mexico's southern border, no one can say exactly who
the organized smuggling groups are. Some say that large transport
rings operate separately from Mexico's brutal drug gangs, such as the
Zetas or the Gulf Cartel, who stick to kidnapping and extortion.
Some say they are all in collusion, including authorities. Both local
police and federal immigration agents have been arrested in recent
raids on kidnapping operations in Reynosa, across the border from
"It's clear that they're immigration agents, federal police, Zetas,
maras, the whole gamut, along with local crime groups," said the Rev.
Alejandro Solalinde, a Catholic priest who runs a migrant shelter in
Oaxaca. "Those who make money off migrants are all part of the same
Immigration authorities in Chiapas said the migrants couldn't say
where they crossed from Guatemala and wouldn't say how they contacted
their smugglers, much less whether the smugglers were part of a
larger organized group.
Some suffered from dehydration after traveling for hours clinging to
cargo ropes strung inside the containers to keep them upright,
allowing more migrants to be crammed in.
Air holes had been punched in the tops of the containers, but
migrants interviewed at the state prosecutors' office said they
lacked air and water. The trucks were bound for the central city of
Puebla, where the migrants said they had been told they would be
loaded aboard a second set of vehicles for the trip to the U.S. border.
Loads of this size may have been crossing for some time. The
difference now is that the blank white trucks passed through an X-ray
machine and then took off, refusing to stop once authorities saw what
was inside. They were chased about 10 miles (16 kilometers) until
police cut them off.
Police arrested four people in the case.
"We don't know how many immigration checkpoints there were before
that," said Hector Sipac, the Guatemalan consul in Mexico City,
noting that any number of similar loads could have been waved through.
State authorities say they have had two checkpoints in Tuxtla
Gutierrez with permanent X-ray machines for just under two years. A
year ago, the federal government provided two more that are mobile
and can be used around the state by the army, navy and immigration
While the permanent stations have netted the largest groups of
migrants, the mobile machines have caught loads of drugs and other
contraband, plus smaller groups of migrants, said spokesman Jose Luis
Still, nothing seems to stop people from seeking the American dream.
"We're seeing a rise in recent months. The apprehensions are
happening almost daily, though this is the second large one," said
Juan Jose Gonzalez, the head of the nonprofit group Southern Border
Movement. "And each time the smugglers charge more to move people