‘La Bestia’ Raided 153 Times by Mexican Immigration Officials During 2014

People hoping to reach the U.S. ride atop the wagon of a freight train, known as La Bestia (The Beast) in Ixtepec

Bob Price - BBTX ProfileThe train which became known as “La Bestia,” or “The Beast,” was raided by Mexican immigration authorities 153 times during 2014. The announcement follows direct observation by Breitbart Texas of Mexican immigration officials cracking down on some of the Central Americans who swarmed into Texas last summer.

Mexican authorities made the announcement on March 3rd, according to a report on Fox News. After the massive invasion by Central Americans into Texas, Mexican immigration officials began tracking down common smuggling routes including the infamous train. The 153 raids on “La Bestia” were part of 758 immigration inspections conducted during the past year.

Last fall, Breitbart Texas made a trip into the Mexican state of Coahuila to learn about energy production reforms in that country. During the entry process in Piedras Negras (across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas), this writer observed a holding facility with several men being held under arrest. When asked, the immigration officials said they were Honduran males who were attempting to illegally cross the border. They told Breitbart Texas there was a push to crack down on Central Americans attempting to cross into the U.S.

In addition to the raids on the train, other raids were conducted at bars, restaurants, and hotels. These were locations where the smuggled immigrants were being held or were being forced to work. Officials were also cracking down on other forms of transportation commonly used by immigrants.

The majority of the surge of illegal immigrants flooding into Texas were coming from the Central American nations of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Breitbart Texas broke the news about the massive flood of unaccompanied minors and women who were being warehoused in inhumane conditions by ICE officials who were overwhelmed by the massive numbers of people crossing. The flood of these immigrants coming into Texas prompted a massive response from the State of Texas and the deployment of additional state police and Texas National Guard members under Operation Strong Safety.

The “La Bestia” train, however, became so famous as a smuggling vehicle that it had a song written about it by the U.S. Government to attempt to discourage people from risking their lives on the train. The song went to the top of the charts in Central America but did not seem to deter traffic on the train.

Mexico cracked down on the train to attempt to avoid catastrophic deaths if there had been an accident, because of the large numbers of people who rode unsecured on the roof of the train. Ardelio Vargas, the head of the National Immigration Institute in Mexico, said, “The consequences of a railroad accident with 700 or 1,200 migrants on board would have been very regrettable. We can’t be so irresponsible as to allow migrants to continue risking their lives on a freight line that has all the deficiencies it has.”

Breitbart Texas reported other tactics by Mexico to discourage train rides. Officials ordered the train to speed up “The Beast” to deter riders from jumping onto the train. Other improvements were made to the train to attempt to decrease the numbers of people being smuggled. Those included surveillance cameras and metal plates to prevent tampering.

One derailment in August took the lives of five people and injured eighteen others. 250 immigrants were on board the train at that time. In response to the changes being made by Mexico, Breitbart Texas border security analyst Sylvia Longmire said, “There’s nothing to say that migrants won’t try to board and ride the train anyway, possibly making it even more dangerous. Migrants would also be forced to seek other transportation options that could be even more dangerous; however, more likely than not, the speeding up ‘The Beast’ could potentially be a big deterrent.”

The report from Mexico stated that immigrants appear to have made a shift to the more expensive method of bus transportation. The institute reported that 101 Central Americans were caught recently on two busses in the north-central state of Zacatecas. During the past thirteen months Mexican officials confirmed their agents assisted 23,078 child migrants from a variety of nationalities. There was no indication as to how many of these were returned to their home country. Thirty-seven percent of those minors were unaccompanied. This represents a little over 8,500 unaccompanied children.

Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and on Facebook.