Laredo Sector Border Patrol agents apprehended several Central American migrants who reported being held at gunpoint and extorted for money by cartel members in Mexico.
Agents patrolling near the border in the Laredo Sector apprehended a Honduran male in the early morning hours of February 26. The migrant told the agents that Mexican cartel members forced him and several other migrants off a bus as they traveled through Mexico last week. The cartel members allegedly took him and the other migrants to an unknown location where they held them against their will with about 200 other migrants, according to information obtained from Laredo Sector Border Patrol officials.
Armed cartel members held the migrants while the attempted to extort them for money prior to allowing them to enter the U.S. The migrant said the cartel members held him for about a week before he escaped and managed to cross the Rio Grande River by himself.
Later that day, agents came upon twelve more illegal aliens in the same area, officials stated. An Ecuadoran migrant who was with the group repeated a similar story to that of the Honduran migrant apprehended earlier on Tuesday. The Ecuadoran man said the cartel members were holding them against their will and that as they began moving some of the migrants to a different stash house, some of them escaped.
Officials said that all of the Central American migrants appeared to be in good health and that none required medical attention.
“Human smugglers and traffickers view these people as commodities, a money-making opportunity, and nothing more,” Laredo Sector Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez said in a written statement. “They’ll stop at nothing to maximize their profit, casually putting the lives of these individuals at risk, with no regard for their well-being. And while the U.S. Border Patrol will continue warning people about the dangers of crossing the border illegally, we will also do everything in our power to find these criminal smugglers and bring them to justice.”
Human smuggling into the Laredo Sector is controlled by the cartel known as Los Zetas. This is one of the cartels that U.S. Representatives Chip Roy (R-TX) and Dr. Mark Green (R-TN) called for the U.S. State Department to declare as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, Breitbart News reported.
In a draft of the letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo obtained by Breitbart News, Congressmen Roy and Green wrote:
Numerous drug cartels employ terrorist tactics that clearly fit this definition, such as the Reynosa/Los Metros faction of the Gulf Cartel, the Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zetas, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel offshoot of the Sinaloa Cartel. These groups use terror to intimidate and to advance their agenda. They threaten the stability of governments across the globe. Even the United Nation’s Security Council has recognized the clear link between drug trafficking and terrorism.
Violent drug cartels are not just a domestic policy issue limited to their home countries. These groups view America’s sovereign borders as merely minor inconveniences. In 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement made more than 2,300 fentanyl arrests and 405 seizures of fentanyl totaling 2,383 pounds. Additionally, cartels operate human trafficking operations into the U.S. that compel victims into forced labor or sexual slavery. While it is difficult to estimate the number of people trafficked each year into the United States, the Department of Justice increased the number of trafficking cases filed by 79% between 2009 and 2016. About 80% of trafficked victims are women, and half are children.
“One of the heads of the Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zetas is someone who was put in jail in Mexico for having attacked a United States consulate with gunfire and an explosive device and then was let out of jail by the general corrupt system that exists in Mexico,” Roy said in an interview on Breitbart News Sunday. “He is now heading up one of these particular factions of Los Zetas.”
“These are dangerous people,” he said. “We see 32,000 murders in Mexico. We see mass graves where you find 60 people who were murdered and buried just across our border. You can hear gunfire just across our border.”
Roy said these cartels are “leveraging our asylum laws for profit. He said these specific cartel factions are “very damaging to our country.”
Listen to the entire interview with Congressman Chip Roy on Breitbart News Sunday.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face