Inside a smuggling operation moving migrants across the US-Mexico border
May 4, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 19.8%. 2 min read.
The smugglers are brothers and run the business out of their family home, smuggling people into the US with the help of one brother's 14 year-old son. Makeshift ladders laid out in the backyard were the only real giveaway of the family business.
But this car was driving right along the border wall in Ciudad Juárez, a city just south of the US-Mexico line, with El Paso, Texas on the other side -- a city where human smuggling abounds.
Two human smugglers, called polleros in this part of the world, were in the car along with two migrants in the backseat who wanted to cross illegally into the United States.
Tens of thousands of migrants arrive at the US border each week, with record-setting numbers of unaccompanied minors among them.
The resurgence has also put a renewed focus on the role human smugglers play in getting so many migrants to the border.
The smugglers are brothers and run the business out of their family home, smuggling people into the US with the help of one brother's 14-year-old son.
There is scant data to quantify the exact number of migrants using smugglers' services to make this journey.
But most experts agree that many have used a smuggler for at least a part of their journey, in ways that can vary from a taxi ride between towns to an "all-inclusive" service that takes migrants from start to finish.
One of the two brothers interviewed by CNN who smuggles people in Ciudad Juárez said he was recruited for the job after moving into his house on the border.
Each migrant must pay the cartel $2,000 to cross the border here with the help of a smuggler, the two brothers told CNN.
While the exact extent of organized crime's role in migrant smuggling throughout Central America remains unclear, its presence is apparent in Mexico, where migrants are taking enormous risks in making their journey to the United States.
"They can be raped, they can be robbed, they can be extorted, they can die on the journey," said psychologist Claudia Grisel Villalobos Esparza, who works at the government-run Nohemí Álvarez Quillay migrant shelter for unaccompanied minors in Ciudad Juárez.
They even brought up the smugglers who, a few weeks earlier, had dropped two young children over the border wall not far from their home, a case that made national headlines in the US.
While extensive data quantifying the specific threats faced by migrants using smugglers is not readily available, a Human Rights First report released last month reported at least 492 attacks and kidnappings suffered by asylum seekers turned away from the US or stranded in Mexico since President Joe Biden took office in January.
The smugglers CNN spoke to argue that they provide a service that helps migrants who are desperate to get to the US.
One of the smugglers got out of the car along with the two migrants, one of whom grabbed the makeshift ladder.