By Tina Kosikowski @ MATT.org
Go ahead, take a look… Take a close look at this x-ray exposing more than 500 total migrants jam packed into semi trailers. Those are people! You see them standing, crouching, sitting, leaning… holding on for dear life. They were crammed together up to 7 people per 1 square meter. The surprising part? None of them were Mexican.
According to Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Migración, the majority of migrants in this case originated from Guatemala, others represented El Salvador, Ecuador, China, Japan, India, Napal, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. This single image demonstrates the reach of organized crime and global smuggling routes. Antonio Mazzitelli, head of the UN office on Drugs and Crime for Mexico and Central America, stated, “this confirms the existence of powerful international smuggling rings that operate from Asia to Latin America in order to reach the United States.”
The lines between smuggling and trafficking often blur. The difference? In this case, a migrant who paid a coyote (most often between 7,000-25,000 USD) to smuggle him or her across any border becomes a trafficking victim when he or she is exploited by smugglers against his or her will. Perfect example: female migrants who pay coyotes to get them into the United States for work as a waitress, for example, become trafficking victims when those same smugglers kidnap them and force them into sex slavery.
How is this possible? In an article by CBS, Demetrios Papademetriou, the Director of the Migration Policy Institute, stated, “We’re talking about something that’s far more systematic than people realize. They learned how to do this by trying to move drugs and other contraband.”
Yes, illegal immigration is illegal; and no, it’s not fair. But next time you hear or read about sex slavery or human trafficking, take a closer look. Most likely, those trafficking victims were first smuggled migrants in a grueling quest for a future as a waitress, landscaper, construction worker, or nanny.