Tuesday, May 1, 2007
From denverpost.com: Mexican drug lords are taking over the business of smuggling immigrants into the United States, using them as human decoys to divert authorities from billions of dollars in cocaine shipments across the same border.
U.S. and Mexican law-enforcement officials told The Associated Press that drug traffickers, in response to a U.S. border crackdown, have seized control of the routes they once shared with human smugglers and in the process are transforming themselves into more diversified crime syndicates.
The drug gangs get protection money from the immigrants and then effectively use them to clear the trail for the flow of drugs.
Undocumented immigrants are used "to maneuver where they want us or don't want us to be," said Alonzo Pena, chief of investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona.
Gustavo Soto, a spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol in Tucson, said smugglers are carrying drugs along paths once used primarily by illegal immigrants. New fences and National Guard troops have helped seal the usual drug routes, and vehicle barriers are forcing traffickers to send more drugs north on the backs of cartel foot soldiers, he said.
The advent of drug-trafficking extortionists along the border also may be responsible for much of the drop in illegal immigration that U.S. officials have attributed more directly to better enforcement, Mexican officials and analysts say. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]