Sunday, July 24, 2011

Migrants' testimonials reveal sophistication of Mexican crime syndicates

Valley Freedom Newspapers

“La delincuencia está bien organizada.”

“The criminal element is well organized,” observed a migrant who was kidnapped last year as he traveled in Mexico toward the U.S. border.

His testimonial is part of a special report by the Mexican National Human Rights Commission regarding the kidnapping of migrants in Mexico. The report was issued in February.

Details that he provided coupled with the recollection of other undocumented migrants, mostly from Central America, reflect that although the conduct of the criminals is barbaric, their planning is shrewd and advanced.

As the U.S. Department of Justice pointed out in its February 2010 National Drug Threat Assessment, the cartels are “highly sophisticated” organizations composed of multiple drug trafficking organizations and cells with specific assignments such as drug transportation, security, enforcement or money laundering.

They even keep a registry of the people they kidnap for ransom in order to further their enterprises.

Testimonials indicate that numerous migrants are kidnapped because the “pollero” (smuggler) failed to make arrangements with the criminal organizations who say they control the rail lines and even the Rio Grande itself. In other instances, the criminal organizations don’t believe the migrants who say they are not accompanied by a smuggler.

One migrant gave this testimony regarding his captor: “He operated a computer in which he said he had access to all of the information. There was a machine to send faxes and he talked a lot in English, both by telephone and on the computer.”

The victim described one of his kidnappers as a young man with a northern Mexican accent and tanned skin who said he was from the state of Chihuahua. The young man handled the computer in the living room in the house where some of the kidnap victims were kept.

“He said that he could access all the information from any country. In fact, he told someone that his brother is in the United States and has been in prison two times,” the migrant recalled in his testimonial.

“Nos tienen fichados,” the victim said, apparently referring to the way the kidnappers book them into their system.

His testimonial did not include information about where he was kidnapped.

In another statement to the human rights organization, a migrant from Honduras who was kidnapped near a shelter for migrants in Nuevo Laredo said one of the kidnappers had a camera connected to a computer and took some photographs of the victims. This occurred in a house where the victims were taken.

“While they beat us, they would film and would take photographs of us. They send the photographs to our relatives in the United States by electronic mail,” the migrant said.

A 25-year-old from El Salvador recounted that when he was kidnapped, he called his uncle in Oklahoma and one of the kidnappers asked for $2,000. His uncle gave the money to a person who contacted him in Oklahoma.

Another victim, a 23-year-old from Honduras, called his sister in California. She deposited the money where she was told and the kidnappers released him.

A victim from Nicaragua called his brother in New York, who deposited $1,000.

The family of another migrant also paid $1,000. And although he was released, he lives in fear.

“I am very afraid because they photographed us. They have us registered,” the migrant recounted. He said he is afraid the kidnappers would be able to identify him.

Other kidnap victims were ordered to call their families, say that they were in Phoenix and ask for $2,000.

Some migrants were brought to Reynosa and were then brought into the United States for $600, but because the kidnappers also had a house in Houston, the victims were kept there until family members paid the full ransom.

Similar information was reported in testimonials obtained by Belen, Posada del Migrante in Saltillo, Coah., and in conjunction with the organizations Frontera Con Justicia and Humanidad Sin Fronteras.

According to another testimonial in the human rights report, one victim’s family paid $10,000.

The victim recounted: “In front of me, they would cut the fingers of those who would not pay. When they screamed, they would call their relatives at that moment so that they could hear how they were torturing us.”

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