El Salvador Arrests ‘Coyote’ Linked to Tamaulipas Migrant Massacre

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El Salvador has announced the arrest of an alleged migrant smuggler who is accused of handing over a group of migrants who were murdered by the Zetas drug gang in Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 2010.

Carlos Arnoldo Ventura Castillo was arrested Sunday in San Salvador, more than a year after the attorney general issued an order for his arrest.

In August 2010, the bodies of 72 migrants from Central America, Ecuador and Brazil were found on a ranch in Tamaulipas. They had been traveling in a group to try to cross the border into the US, but had fallen into the hands of the Zetas drug gang who killed them execution-style, leaving few survivors, for reasons that remain unclear.

According to a press release from the attorney general’s office, Ventura is suspected of having been a key member in the smuggling organization that was hired to guide the group through Mexico to the United States. It is not clear if the smugglers delivered the migrants into the hands of the Zetas for payment, or whether they were coerced.

Ventura is the fifth person to be arrested over the case. Three more people are wanted in connection with the incident, including Jose Maria Negreros Sermeno, who is suspected of heading a trafficking ring in Guatemala.

InSight Crime Analysis

The apprehension of the suspected “coyote” could bring the authorities closer to understanding the Tamaulipas massacre. There is still no clear explanation for the killings, and many facts about the case remain unclear, including how many of the migrant group survived. One theory is that the Zetas may have thought the migrants were soldiers for a rival organization, but since the group included women and were foreigners, this is dubious.

Thousands of migrants are kidnapped in Mexico each year, according to a report by the country’s National Human Rights Commission.

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