Migration is a business on Mexico’s southern border

06/08/16 MarketPlace

fence at borderThere’s a black market that thrives every day in the very shadow of the legal border crossings that link Mexico and Guatemala — to the chagrin of the United States. After the unaccompanied minors crisis in 2014, when thousands of Central American children arrived on the U.S. border after transiting Mexico, the U.S. started spending millions of dollars to help Mexico secure its very porous southern border with Guatemala.

But little has changed on a large section of the Guatemala-Mexico border marked by the Rio Suchiate, historically a transit point for goods and people in either direction.

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Illegal trade thrives along Mexico-Guatemala border

06/30/16 MarketPlace  

Guate-MexborderIn 2012, a senior official in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared that Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala was now essentially the southern border of the United States.

That was two years before the 2014 child migrant crisis that saw tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America crossing or attempting to cross into the U.S. from Mexico. Since then, the U.S. has expanded its own border enforcement efforts by assisting Mexico on its southern border. In 2015, fewer Central Americans reached the U.S., though the numbers vary from season to season.

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Testimony on Drug Trade Highlights System’s Complexity

5/27/16 InSight Crime

opium_poppy_field_-_mexicoIn testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere subcommittee, InSight Crime Co-Director Steven Dudley discussed some common myths and the decidedly more complex reality of Mexico‘s drug trafficking groups and their role in fueling the US heroin epidemic.

Mexico’s Increased Market Share

US consumption of heroin has increased significantly in the last few years. The reasons for this are complex but have to do with the increase of prescription drugs in the United States, a rise in prices of these prescription drugs and their black market counterparts, and the subsequent safeguards on this prescription medicine market, specifically OxyContin.

The US portion of the world heroin market is small by comparison in terms of users, but outsized in terms of potential earnings. The Rand Corporation estimated in 2014, that US consumers spend as much as $27 billion on heroin each year, an increase from $20 billion per year in 2000.1 Only the marijuana market is worth more in the US.2

Mexican, Guatemalan and Colombian criminal organizations have reacted to these changes by producing more heroin. Only a small percentage of the world’s opium poppy is cultivated in this hemisphere, but after it is processed into heroin, almost all of it is sold in the United States where the number of consumers for the drug has more than doubled since the early 2000s.

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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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