36 Human Smugglers arrested in US, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico

9/4/15 In Homeland Security

AP Photo/Agencia Contraluz
AP Photo/Agencia Contraluz

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and law enforcement authorities in El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico arrested 36 alleged human smugglers Friday during a large-scale multinational operation called “Operation Lucero.”

The operation targeted transnational criminal organizations suspected of illegally smuggling hundreds of individuals each week – including children and families – throughout Central America and Mexico into the United States. The operation resulted in 17 arrests in El Salvador, seven in Guatemala and 12 in Mexico,” DHS announced.

In addition to the arrests, 39 undocumented migrants were rescued, including 10 unaccompanied minors, 14 accompanied minors and 15 adults. Law enforcement authorities seized 22 properties – 20 in Guatemala and two in Mexico – valued in excess of $2 million in US currency. Four bank accounts containing the equivalent of $142,000, and bulk cash valued at $46,000 was seized, as well as 22 vehicles, six weapons, three smuggling boats, 11 boat engines, ammunition, bank cards, communication devices and an abundance of documents corroborating human smuggling.

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Mexico ‘a death trap for migrants’ one year after new border program launched

7/9/15 Daily News

Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement_arrestHonduran migrant Gerardo Cruz never saw the face of the man who pushed him off the train’s ladder as he rode through Chontalpa, Mexico. But through the black of that March night, 20-year-old Cruz said he could make out the white lettering of “Policía Federal” or “Federal Police” on the man’s dark blue uniform.

When Cruz fell, he said, his left arm landed on the tracks and the train’s wheels severed his limb.

“The government officials were the cause of this problem,” Cruz said of his injury, speaking in Spanish. “There should be compensation because this is a crime.”

Mexico’s Southern Border Program was launched in July 2014 in response to an influx of Central American migrants crossing through Mexico, creating a crisis that included tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors arriving at the US border. The program was designed to manage Mexico’s 750-mile border with Guatemala and Belize while protecting migrants settled in the country or en route to the US.

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Mexico detains 49 percent more minors in first 5 months

6/22/15 Macon.com

barbed wireWhile the wave of child and teen migrants has receded at the U.S. border, detentions of Central American minors are up sharply in Mexico this year, the country’s National Immigration Institute reported Monday

It said detentions of Central American minors have risen 49 percent compared to the similar period last year, with about half of the 11,893 underage migrants detained between January and May travelling alone or with a smuggler. That’s compared to 8,003 in the same period of 2014 and 3,496 in 2013.

Two-thirds of those detained so far in 2015 were between the ages of 12 and 17. One third were 11 or younger. The institute said they were mainly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

A Smuggled Girl’s Odyssey of False Promises and Fear

10/05/16 New York Times

120px-Mexico-US_border_countiesThe smugglers advertised on the radio as spring bloomed into summer: “Do you want to live better? Come with me.” Cecilia, a restless wisp of a girl, heard the pitch and ached to go. Her stepfather had been murdered, forcing her, her mother and four younger siblings into her aunt’s tiny home, with just three beds for 10 people. It was all they had — and all a smuggler needed. He offered them a loan of $7,000 for Cecilia’s journey, with the property as a guarantee. “I gave him the original deed,” said Jacinta, her aunt, noting that the smuggler gave them a year to repay the loan, with interest. “I did it out of love.” The trip lasted nearly a month, devolving from a journey of want and fear into an outright abduction by smugglers in the United States.

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Mexico Makes Route Tougher for Migrants

09/21/14 The New York Times

Train Tracks by HeraldicosTIERRA BLANCA, Mexico — Soon after crossing from Guatemala into Mexico last week, the group of Honduran migrants spotted the police swarming the freight train known as “The Beast” that has dangerously but reliably ferried tens of thousands of people north, clumped atop and hanging off box cars. So they walked through bushes and along riverbanks to avoid detection. And then they walked some more, 10 hours a day for several days, parched and so starved that they grabbed what fish they could from the streams and fruit from the trees.

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Suspected mastermind of Guatemala police massacre arrested in Mexico

Los Angeles Times, 10/4/2013

hands in handcuffsAn alleged drug cartel leader suspected of masterminding the June slayings of nine Guatemalan federal policemen was arrested Friday in the southern Mexico border state of Chiapas, officials said.

The suspect, Eduardo Francisco Villatoro Cano, became one of the most wanted men in Guatemala after more than a dozen armed men believed to be allied with his drug-running organization stormed a police substation June 13 in Salcaja, a municipality near Quetzaltenango, the country’s second-largest city.

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Anarchy along Mexico’s southern border crossings

mexican immigrantLos Angeles Times, 8/3/2013

The Mexican government is pledging to bring order to its wild southern border. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and the job couldn’t be more difficult.

The proof lies in this dusty border town of 14,000 people. Here, unmonitored goods and travelers float across the wide Suchiate River — the boundary between Guatemala and the Mexican state of Chiapas — on a flotilla of inner-tube rafts. They cross all day long, in plain sight of Mexican authorities stationed a few yards upriver at an official border crossing.  Some of the Central Americans are visiting just for the day. Others are hoping to find work on Mexican coffee plantations or banana farms. But many will continue north toward the United States.

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