Dozens of Mexican Migrants Disappear in the Chihuahuan Desert, America’s New ‘Bermuda Triangle’

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — In this late autumn night, 12 immigrant left the small town of Coyame in northern Mexico to enter the vast Chihuahuan desert, in the hope of crossing The United States Crosses the Texas Border. Among them is a 14 year old boy from Southern Mexico who is dreaming of reuniting with family across the border.

Before taking off on September 25, a 32-year-old man from the same group reported called his wife to tell her he had paid 25,000 pesos (about $1,200) to a smuggler to direct him to Odessa, Texas, where he would get a job, all in an effort to feed his family. his two young children, a 7-year-old. -five years old and 11 years old, back Mexico.

That was the last time anyone heard from one of the group members, all of whom disappeared except for the 14-year-old boy who was traveling with them. According to local Ciudad Juarez Media reports, the teenager tried to escape what he said was a staged kidnapping. He told Mexican authorities that the group was stopped in the middle of the desert by some heavily armed men ride in three pickup trucks. The 12 migrants and smugglers were taken away, but when their captors noticed the boy was underage, they reported him to go.

“I never knew something like this would happen, we never thought about it because we didn’t research or read the news about this happening in that area.”

– Wife of the missing migrant.

Migrants have entered a dangerous mountain area in Chihuahuan Desert—Following the migrants’ “Bermuda Triangle” by local reporters. In the last few years, dozens of migrants, including children, women and complete families, have disappeared in the region without a trace, according to local reports and key figures. awake.

The latest disappearances are part of a growing trend of happening in the same corridors, mostly used by people who turn themselves over to human traffickers — or what locals call them. ‘coyote’ – to be brought into the United States illegally

In May this year, a 31-year-old indigenous woman was reported missing while walking through the area. A local Mexican newspaper report She was abandoned by her smuggler after getting tired on the walk. In the early days of June, another woman, 20 years old from southern Mexico, was also reported missing. She spoke one last time with her family just before setting off for the desert en route to the US border. Her whereabouts are unknown to this day.

In the past two years alone, more than 35 migrants have disappeared from the region trying to reach the US, according to the Chihuahua State Attorney General’s Office. Considering that many of these cases are not reported to Mexican authorities, the true number may be even larger.

Security sources in Mexico told The Daily Beast that most migrants who never reach the United States are kidnapped or killed by gang members fighting each other in the desert. That, or they die of dehydration during the grueling walk that usually lasts up to six days.

“The disappearances around Ciudad Juarez and Texas are happening more frequently than before. Organized crime has become more and more involved in human trafficking, and it’s now on the scale of drug trafficking,” said Howard Campbell, a national security expert at the University of Texas at El Paso. with The Daily Beast.

A Mexican official who agreed to speak to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity and who is involved in the investigation into the disappearance of 12 migrants said they could also be abandoned by smugglers. fell in the desert.

“Smugglers don’t care about migrants. In many cases, they just leave them in the middle of the desert and during the summer or winter a few hours without the right equipment can kill you,” the source told The Daily Beast.

“In many other cases, they are handed over to kidnappers or forced to smuggle drugs before being killed,” the officer added.

After much pressure from the families of the migrants who went missing in September, Mexican authorities launched a search operation in the Chihuahuan desert on Sunday, including the general neighborhood where the migrants were. is said to have disappeared. But so far, the search has been unsuccessful. Authorities have only found old furniture, burned vehicles and human remains believed to be from people who lived in the area before the 12 migrants arrived there.

“We just want to know he’s alive.”

– Wife of the missing migrant.

“My husband decided to emigrate to provide for our daughters, he has always been very responsible and he worked hard to pay for that journey,” said the wife of one of the 12 migrants. resident has disappeared, told The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity. for fear of retaliation. “I never knew something like this would happen, we never thought about it because we didn’t research or read the news about this happening in that area.”

The aerial search that took place over the weekend included a Blackhawk helicopter, officials from the Mexican Immigration Institute, the National Guard, the Mexican military and state police, according to a press release issued by the authorities. Chihuahuan announced.

Concerns about the safety of migrants have raised alarm among human rights activists since the launch of the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), a program that requires asylum seekers Non-Mexican victims must wait in Mexico for months before appearing in U.S. immigration court to plead guilty to their crimes. refugee cases.

The order began in 2019 during the administration of former US President Donald Trump. It was suspended for several months earlier this year, before being restarted by the Biden administration in December – a move that has sparked a backlash from migration activists and lawmakers across the country. U.S.

Critics say the measure has allowed criminal organizations to cash in on desperate migrants, who turn themselves over to smugglers only to be kidnapped and, in many cases, arrested. kill when there is not enough ransom.

A report by Human Rights First, an international human rights advocacy organization, found that at least 7,000 people were abused, blackmailed, kidnapped or killed while awaiting trial in Mexico.

“Migration is not a crime and he did not commit a crime or do anything wrong,” the wife of one of the missing migrants told The Daily Beast. “We just want to know he’s alive.” Dozens of Mexican Migrants Disappear in the Chihuahuan Desert, America’s New ‘Bermuda Triangle’

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