By Theodore Shoebat
As if traveling all the way from Central America to try to make it to the United States was not tough enough, migrants have been dealing with cartels and drug traffickers who kidnap them for murder. Vice Magazine did a whole story on this moribund and dark reality and I’ll post up some excerpts recounting this evil:
The new job was going well at first. Roberto stocked up on a bunch of newspapers and started selling them in the center of town. He was trying to make some cash to buy food for himself and his family, who were staying in a shelter in Juárez while they pursued asylum in the U.S.
But the second day on the job, a group of men rolled up in a slow-moving car. “You’re not from here,” one said, hearing his Honduran accent.
“Stop fucking around,” they told him. “Why don’t you work with us – the Juárez Cartel. With us, you’ll make a lot of money. You could earn more selling drugs. Or if you want, you could be an assassin. Think about it.”
The next day, Roberto returned to the street to sell newspapers. The same men approached again, and this time he ran and hid in a nearby paint supply store. He didn’t see their offer to join the cartel as an invitation; he saw it as a threat.
“I’m scared they are going to see me again. And because I didn’t accept their offer, they are going to retaliate against me and my family,” he said.
“The potential of waiting for months without solid incomes puts people in a situation of being targeted for violence as well as forced recruitment,” said Jeremy Slack, a professor at the University of Texas-El Paso who studies migration and drug violence along the border.
Slack said the increase in violence in Juárez began in 2016 — before the wave of migrants and deportees in the city. He attributed it to local turf wars and a reorganization in the crime world, driven in part by the decline of the once-dominant Sinaloa cartel following the arrest of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. With Sinaloa less powerful, other cartels have emerged to challenge them for control of the drug trade. Civilians are often caught in the middle.
And the arrival of so many migrants and deported Mexicans “adds an extra tinder to that fire,” Slack said.
He said deported Mexicans are at particularly high risk of being kidnapped, because the cartels believe they have family in the U.S. who can pay ransom money for their release. “But often what happens is there is one ransom, and then the next ransom, and then they can’t pay, and then there is this forced recruitment that happens.”
Migrants making their way through Mexico en route to the U.S. have also frequently found themselves in the crosshairs of criminal organizations.
Sandra, who fled Nicaragua with her 5-year-old son, said that in February they were kidnapped from their hotel in the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo and held for several days by a criminal gang. The gang robbed her money and cell phone, but eventually released them without explanation. “I thought we were going to die,” she said.
In March, 19 migrants were kidnapped at gunpoint from a bus in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas while traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican security forces said the kidnapping involved organized crime but didn’t elaborate. The migrants were rescued several weeks later from a home in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.
Earlier this month, three Honduran men were killed earlier this month when gunmen stormed a home in Juárez. It’s unclear what their motive was.
And back in 2010, 72 men and women trying to reach the U.S. were kidnapped in Tamaulipas and shot to death. Mexican officials said the Zeta cartel killed them after they refused to join.
“What we have seen throughout Mexico is that when you have an increase in migrants in a certain area, you also see criminal groups follow. They are easy prey both for local criminal groups and organized criminal groups who recruit them, extort them or kidnap them,” said Maureen Meyer, director of the Mexico and Migrant Rights program at the Washington Office on Latin America, a D.C. think tank.
One Honduran woman, Maria, said members of criminal organizations have entered the shelter where she was staying, pretending to be migrants. She said they stay no more than three days, and spend that time quietly approaching the people staying there.
One man told her he could cross her and her family into the U.S., promising it would be faster than waiting at the shelter. And she said her husband was offered money if he would cross into the U.S. with a bag of cocaine and give it to an associate on the U.S. side. They told him he would make “good money” and that afterwards they would take him to meet his family in the U.S.
Maria and her family had fled gang threats in Honduras; they didn’t want to do anything that would risk their chances of getting asylum in the U.S. But the situation in the shelter is difficult — they are living in cramped quarters with limited food — and she said other migrants appear to have followed the men.
“Their mission is to convince the men and women to leave with them.”