Fri | Oct 22, 2021

Massive migrant smuggling ring uncovered

Published:Tuesday | July 23, 2019 | 12:00 AM

MEXICO CITY (AP):

Mexican officials said Monday that they had uncovered an industrial-scale migrant-­smuggling ring using tractor-trailer rigs disguised as freight deliveries for major companies.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said authorities found a tractor-trailer disguised with the logo of a major grocery store chain. But instead of groceries, it was carrying about 150 migrants.

“The [grocery] company has filed a complaint because it was fake, it was camouflaged to transport migrants,” López Obrador said.

In June, Mexico detected five freight trucks carrying 925 migrants, almost all from Central America. Some of those trucks bore the logos of well-known firms, though it was not clear if those trucks were also fakes or had been used illegally by drivers without the companies’ knowledge.

Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said that four or five of the freight trucks found in June belonged to the same independent trucking company, based in central Mexico.

Ebrard said the company operated trucks equipped with air-­conditioning units, but the smugglers didn’t turn on the ventilation when carrying migrants.

That led officials to believe that it was just a matter of time before migrants would die aboard the overcrowded vehicles.

“The biggest concern is that there is going to be a tragedy that is what we don’t want,” said López Obrador.