Organized crime informants intercept visitors leaving the airport in this city to question them and decide if they can continue their way. These interceptions are made in plain sight of military personnel who “monitor” the surroundings of the air terminal.
REFORMA verified how the so-called “hawks” stop the transit of airport taxis to question passengers.
“They are going to stop us, they are going to stop us!” The taxi driver warned when he observed that a red Fusion Ford car with tinted windows came out of the ramp of one of the industrial businesses located on Boulevard Aeropuerto.
“Who are they?” the taxi driver was asked.
“They’re in the “Maña”,” he said.
And if you don’t stop?, we was asked.
“They follow me and screw me,” taxi driver said.
“If they ask you why you are here, tell them that you have your visa, that you have documents,” the taxi driver recommended to the passenger as he got off the shore.
The “halcon”, with tattoos on his arms, thin and about 22 years old, spoke on his cell phone, approached the taxi and questioned: “Reason for your visit? Why are you coming to Nuevo Laredo?”
-To the visit of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, he was answered last Saturday.
“Oh, okay, okay,” he said.
The taxi driver confirmed that the “hawks” make these filters even though the airport was reinforced by the military and immigration agents.
“If they see that you are a migrant, they follow you, it depends on how they see you, so they report to their bosses,” he said.
‘If you don’t pay them, you don’t cross into the US’
“Migrants have WhatsApp groups, there they communicate and alert each other to dangers all the way to the border with the United States. In particular, Nuevo Laredo is prohibited for them due to the bad experiences that other migrants had who were intercepted, kidnapped and assaulted,” an agent from the Tamaulipas Prosecutor’s Office who investigates, among other things, kidnapping of undocumented immigrants told REFORMA.
Via Nuevo Laredo the Texan cities of San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin are nearby.
Only San Antonio is about 250 kilometers from this city, which means a temptation for the undocumented. But the risk is high.
“Until last year, hundreds of Haitians, Cubans and Venezuelans arrived here, mainly, they organized to cross the Rio Grande, but there they were intercepted, picked up and not only assaulted, but also thrown out of Nuevo Laredo; that put alert all other migrants,” added the agent.
The investigations, based on the testimonies of the victims, establish that members of organized crime “hunt” migrants (Mexican or foreign) who want to cross illegally, or even legally, to steal their belongings.
“They are ‘hunted’ at the airport or at the bus terminal, coming from the south, as soon as they get off the transport they are dragged away; it is practically a kidnapping, because they are taken to safe houses, and that is where the torment begins for them, because they start asking family members for money,” he said.
“In addition, the mafia has control over the coyotes or polleros, who promise to send migrants for $2,000 in areas where there is no (US) National Guard, but in reality, they only throw them away at some point far from the river, and in the night no longer accompany them”.
Another area watched over by criminals is the Greyhound bus terminal, units that generally leave for Houston for about 1,200 pesos or Dallas for 1,500.
A bus driver assured that criminals also intercept migrants who travel legally to the United States, with visa in hand, to charge them in order to cross, either in that terminal or in the vicinity of border bridges.
“They are surrounded (the passengers) by three or four individuals and they are taken away, nobody can do anything, or you get in trouble,” he warned.
“If you don’t pay them, you don’t cross into the United States; by truck or by river, it’s that easy,” he added.
The money, he clarified, is obtained after calling the contacts that the people detained have saved on their cell phones.
“If they find calls or chats with people from the United States, extortion increases a lot,” lamented the driver, who witnessed several “detentions” of migrants.
Due to this situation, the official shelters for migrants have already lowered their curtains, so the risk for undocumented immigrants who wander in this city is higher.
Despite the foregoing, the official figures do not reflect extortion and kidnapping.
After the 39 extortions that were reported in 2015, with 8 kidnappings, by 2022 no cases were registered in this municipality, according to figures from the National Public Security System (SNSP).
“Those who denounce are charged, their property is set on fire or they disappear.
The ‘maña’ is in control, they know who filed the complaint and they are going after that person, that is why there is a large black figure,” added a businessman who requested anonymity.
“Most of the businesses pay a floor rights and dozens of migrants are kidnapped in a month, of course there are cases, but there are no complaints”.
According to information from the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) and the National Defense Secretariat (SEDENA), the Gulf Cartel and the Northeast Cartel are present in this border city, as well as cells from other criminal groups.