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Inside Mexico’s ‘Coyote’ Smuggler Network

July 22, 2014 by staff 

Inside Mexico’s ‘Coyote’ Smuggler Network, The man-in-the-know nursed a late-morning beer at a bar near the Suchiate River that separates Guatemala from Mexico, and answered a question about his human smuggling business with a question: “Do you think a coyote is going to say he’s a coyote?”

Dressed as a migrant in shorts and sandals but speaking like an entrepreneur, he then described shipments of tens of thousands of dollars in human cargo from the slums of Honduras and highlands of Guatemala to cities across the United States.

“It’s business,” he said, agreeing to speak to a reporter only if guaranteed anonymity. “Sometimes, business is very good.”

Judging by the dramatic increase in the number of minors apprehended in the United States in recent months, it seems the human smuggling business from Central America is booming. The vast majority of migrants who enter the U.S. illegally do so with the help of a network of smugglers known as “coyotes,” so named for the scavengers that prowl the border.

It is a high-risk, often high-yield business estimated to generate $6.6 billion a year for smugglers along Latin America’s routes to the U.S., according to a 2010 United Nations report. The migrants pay anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 each for the illegal journey across thousands of miles in the care of smuggling networks that in turn pay off government officials, gangs operating on trains and drug cartels controlling the routes north.

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