Organized crime controls the business of smuggling migrants

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, a man who smuggled undocumented migrants into the United States for three decades talked about the new dynamics of the 'business'.
Amalia Escobar / EL UNIVERSAL
19/05/2015
12:07
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Staring into the United States, "El Compadre" says that being a "pollero" is not profitable anymore, because organized crime has taken over the business and "distorted" everything. 

For three decades he smuggled undocumented migrants into the United States, a crime that took him to prison on several occasions. 

"Until four years ago the border was something else: there was a wall sheet instead of a steel wall to divide the two countries, and back in 2008, they only had a small fence of barbed wire," he explained in an interview with EL UNIVERSAL. 

"To jump to the other side we used poles. Once on the other side we ran towards the Burger King, in Arizona. It was this simple to get to the United States. It was not necessary to take people through the desert and over the hills. Back then I earned up to 4,000 dollars a week. Today I am almost retired, but still make 500 or 600 dollars a week for taking migrants to my colleagues," he added. 

According to El Compadre "everything has changed. First, Americans put a six-meter wall and increased surveillance with radars, helicopters and even dogs, but the worst is that organized crime took over the border and the business. They smuggle people themselves, and those who still work on their own are charged between 7,000 and 10,000 pesos (US$460-650) for each migrant," El Compadre said. 

How does organized crime know how many migrants cross the border? 

They have hawks and checkpoints near the busiest crossings in Sonora, such as Altar, San Luis Río Colorado, Sonoyta, Caborca, Sasabe, Saric and Agua Prieta. They have eyes everywhere! 

In 30 years I never abandoned a migrant in the desert, neither did I use them as mules to move drugs, as organized crime does now. Migrants are given backpacks loaded with marijuana or cocaine so that they take it to the other side of the border with them.  

What are the fees to smuggle undocumented migrants? 

It depends on their destination. For example, Tucson is 2,500 dollars; Phoenix 3,000 dollars; Pennsylvania, between 5,000 and 6m000 dollars and if they take a plane, they have to pay an extra charge.

 

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