A horrific accident last week in Chiapas which killed 55 migrants and injured over 100 more has revealed an extensive network of human traffickers operating in Mexico.
A tractor-trailer transporting the migrants overturned on the Chiapa de Corzo-Tuxtla Gutiérrez highway on November 9, as it rounded a curve at high speed.
Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía said 1,600 investigations are underway to uncover traffickers who allegedly charge 60,000 pesos (US $2,860) to transport migrants to the U.S. border.
The trafficking route starts in Chiapas and usually moves through Veracruz, Puebla and Tamaulipas.
In Tamaulipas, authorities report detecting nine trailers carrying more than 700 migrants so far in 2021. Hundreds more migrants were discovered this year, in often inhumane conditions, aboard trucks in Puebla, Veracruz and Chiapas.
The head of trucking group Canacar in Veracruz, Antonio Exsome Zapata, said most of the trailers that move migrants are stolen and their license plates and other signage are copied. “What we have already investigated is that they are stolen units but they copy the identity of the unit … they carry logos of known companies so that they get lost among the units that are circulating, and go virtually unnoticed … that leaves us defenseless,” he said.
In last week’s accident, the truck passed through a state police checkpoint just 500 meters before it crashed but was not stopped despite officers having infrared cameras that could have detected the presence of people in its trailer, the newspaper Reforma reported.
However, the head of the National Guard, Luis Rodríguez Bucio, said the truck didn’t pass through any immigration checkpoints before the crash.
Some migrants who survived the accident fled the scene. Many migrants are willing to risk it with traffickers in order to avoid immigration officials, who could imprison or deport them. Others opt to join caravans to walk from the southern border, and jump on empty trailers whenever they can.
The parliamentary leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Rubén Moreira, said the authorities were to blame for the accident in Chiapas for refusing to properly identify the problem. “This should call us all to reflect … we have to look for a different way out of this whole problem. They died because the authorities don’t give them protection and because there are traffickers … no one raises their voice to say that drug trafficking is taking charge of this illicit trafficking,” he said.
With reports from Milenio