Drug Violence Deters Central American Migrants: Mexico Officials

Mexican immigration officials have said that the surge of drug violence in north Mexico has caused a massive drop in undocumented Central American migrants traveling through the country to the U.S.

According to the director of Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM), Salvador Beltran del Rio, there has been a reduction of nearly 70 percent in the number of Central American migrants passing through the country in the past five years. The estimate is based on the number of migrants detained in Mexico, which fell from 433,000 in 2005 to 140,000 last year.

Speaking at a conference on migration on Monday, Beltran said that the pattern has continued in the first few months of 2011. From January to August of this year, only 46,914 undocumented migrants were apprehended, which the INM official blamed on the deepening involvement of Mexican drug cartels in migrant trafficking, extortion and kidnapping. Out of every 10 migrants who attempt to go northward, Belran said, six employ a “coyote,” who they pay to transport them across the U.S. border.

As InSight Crime has reported, these individuals frequently take advantage of the migrants, threatening them or their family members with violence in order to extract large sums of money. The risky predicament of undocumented migrants was illustrated last August, when 72 Central Americans were allegedly murdered by the Zetas in San Fernando, Tamaulipas near the U.S.-Mexico border.