UPCOMING EVENT | Beyond “Coyotes”: Current Trends in the Facilitation of Irregular Migration in Latin America

WHEN: April 5, 2018, 9-11am

WHERE: 6th Floor, Wilson Center

Click to RSVP

For generations, the persona of the coyote, or smuggler, as facilitator of irregular migration has been a central figure in Latin American migrants’ accounts of their journeys ‘up north.’ While traditionally viewed as providing a necessary service, smugglers are increasingly depicted as violent and predatory men often operating in collusion with other illicit networks for the sole purpose of obtaining financial profits. This narrative, while compelling, often obscures the fact that migrants’ reliance on coyotes is a response to multiple factors.

This event shifts the focus away from the coyote. It sheds light on how, across Latin America, the increasingly punitive nature of immigration enforcement, shifting migration trends, and the presence of other actors—including those from other illicit markets — have altered the landscape of traditional irregular migration facilitation strategies, often to the detriment of migrants’ safety.

Join us for a discussion about current trends in smuggling and its organization, the shifting roles of migrants in the market, and the additional criminal risks many of them face as a result.  Speakers will present findings from their research in South and Central America, Mexico, and the US-Mexico border:

Welcome and Moderator: 

Eric L. Olson, Senior Adviser, Mexico Institute; Deputy Director, Latin American Program Wilson Center

Presenters

Victoria Stone Cadena: “Coyoterismo in the Americas: the myths of mobility”
Associate Director, Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Gabriella Sanchez: “Care, protection and support during smuggling journeys in the Central America-Mexico -US Mexico border migration corridor” 
Research Fellow, Migration Policy Centre, The Robert Schuman Centre, European University Institute

Sheldon Zhang: “Migrant Smuggling and its convergence with other illicit markets along the US Mexico Border” 
Chair and Professor, School of Criminology and Justice Studies, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Commentator

Dr. Louise Shelley
Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Endowed Chair; Director, Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC), Schar School of Policy and Government,  George Mason University

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Most US-Mexico Border Smugglers Are U.S. Citizens, Paper Finds

07/20/15 Huffington Post

human trafficking by Flikr user Brett JordanPITTSBURGH (AP) — The smuggling of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border relies heavily on American labor, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found in an eight-month investigation that paints a portrait of the network of smugglers known as “coyotes.”

Three out of every five convicted smugglers are U.S. citizens, according to an analysis by the newspaper of 3,254 federal trafficking convictions during 2013 and 2014 in federal courts in the southern stretches of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Read more…

18 Mexicans convicted in Nicaragua to serve out money laundering sentences at home

handcuffsThe Washington Post, 11/17/2013

Nicaragua says 18 Mexicans caught posing as journalists to smuggle $9.2 million in cash will be sent back to their home country to serve out their 18-year prison sentences for money laundering convictions.

The Mexicans were arrested last year after Nicaraguan officers found bundles of cash hidden in their phony TV news vehicles.

Read more…

U.S. Border Patrol Agents Who Made Alleged Drug Smugglers Eat Pot Will Be Sentenced

The Huffington Post, 11/12/2013

Border patrol agent by Flickr user °FlorianTwo U.S. Border Patrol agents  who forced four suspected drug smugglers to chew marijuana and  flee shoeless into the Arizona desert on a chilly November night  are due to be sentenced on Tuesday for violating the men’s civil  rights.

A jury convicted Dario Castillo, 25, and Ramon Zuniga, 31,  in April of depriving the Mexican men, all of whom were in the  U.S. illegally, of civil rights in the incident in the  borderland deserts of southern Arizona.

 

Lateral deportation: Migrants crossing the Mexican border fear a trip sideways

Border fenceThe Washington Post, 2/12/2013

While reporting on a story last week among the down-and-out (and recently deported) at a migrant shelter in Tecate, Mexico, I met a few men who had a whole new reason to dread re-arrest by U.S. Border Patrol. They were trying to sneak back into California. But if caught, they were likely to be transported hundreds of miles east by U.S. immigration authorities, where they would be released onto the streets of some of Mexico’s scariest border towns.

The procedure is known as Lateral Repatriation, or Lateral Deportation. It began a decade ago as a pilot program aimed at reducing migrant deaths in the blazing deserts of Arizona. The thinking was this: Instead of sending illegal migrants back to the Mexican side near their point of arrest, U.S. agents could break the catch-and-release pattern — and ties to local smuggling guides — by shipping deportees from the harsh deserts to more settled areas opposite south Texas.

Read more…

Suspected drug smugglers try to leap border fence with Jeep, ramp

LA Times, 10/31/12

The rules of the smuggling game across the U.S.-Mexicoborder have been written unofficially for years: If a bad guy moving drugs or people encounters a border fence, you tunnel under it. But a group of enterprising – or desperate – smugglers got caught trying an alternative method. They built a flimsy makeshift ramp and tried to drive over a U.S. Border Patrol fence near the Imperial Sand Dunes in Southern California.

Read more…

Mexico Confirms Arrest of Suspected Grenade Smuggler

The Wall Street Journal, 9/6/11

Mexican authorities on Tuesday confirmed the capture of Jean Baptiste Kingery, an American citizen accused of smuggling grenades across the border to help arm drug cartels.

U.S. officials said earlier that Mr. Kingery had been arrested in late August at his home in Mazatlan, in the Pacific-coast state of Sinaloa, but Mexican police only confirmed the arrest Tuesday.

Mr. Kingery, from Arizona, allegedly purchased components to make hand grenades and other weapons in the U.S. and smuggled them across the border for use by the Sinaloa Cartel, one of Mexico’s major drug-smuggling outfits, Mexican officials said in a news release.

Read more…