MIAMI (April 19, 2021). There is a triple crisis happening on the border between Mexico and the United States. First, there’s the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Then there’s the Border Patrol and ICE making sure the Venezuelans arriving at the border stay on the Mexican side. To make matters worse, organized crime in Mexico (and in the United States to a lesser degree) is enriching itself through human trafficking of unsuspecting Venezuelans.
Last week on the Factores de Poder channel, Venezuelan journalist living in the United States Patricia Poleo revealed the results of an investigation into a mafia of Venezuelan and Mexican coyotes on both sides of the border. This mob appears to be run by an alleged “pastor” named Jesus Antonio Chirinos Romero, who lives in or near Warren, Texas. (He already deleted his Twitter account between that episode of Agarrate and today.) The con is that everyone pretends to be pastors and part of a ministry. First they scam the migrants into thinking they can get them across legally, or at least safely if illegally. Then they hold the migrants prisoners to shake them down for everything they have. Only when the migrants or their relatives can pay the conmen’s “fees” do they begin to cross the border through the Rio Grande and then hike on foot in the desert. But because the deadline for physical stay in the US required for receiving TPS has passed, several groups of Venezuelans have recently been deported to Mexico.
In a Spanish-language interview with Patricia Poleo, the leader of the ‘Una Carta Salva Una Vida’ ( A Letter Saves A Life) campaign, Edinson Calderón, offered these comments on the trafficking of Venezuelans between Mexico and the United States.
“There are mafias that are integrated between Mexico and Venezuela. It’s no secret to anyone that the Mexican government is allied with the Venezuelan [usurper] government at this time. Unfortunately for Venezuelans, it’s Nicolás Maduro who is running the government at this time. So the government of Mexico is involved with them to do this kind of thing: to bring in people who don’t qualify for asylum, or people planning on coming here, to try to ruin the great progress that we’ve made as Venezuelans.”
Given how fast the Mexican government released the son of Chapo Guzman, there’s no question that the Sinaloa Cartel owns the Mexican state. It’s also known by the general public, as revealed a year ago by the think tank InSight Crime, that the Sinaloa Cartel converted the Venezuelan city of Machiques de Perijá in the state of Zulia into a drug trafficking bastion for the region. Therefore it’s no accident that the majority of the victims caught in these immigration scams on the Mexican border are people from Zulia.
The Sinaloa Cartel and the smaller organized crime networks who pay taxes to the cartel aren’t merely taking advantage of migrants passing through the Mexico-US border region, but have a complete organized crime supply chain from Venezuela to the United States. Therefore, it’s extremely counter-productive that the US Department of Homeland Security should deport Venezuelan refugees, where they’re at the mercy of drug cartels and corrupt government the minute they’re back on Mexican soil.
Calderón also said: “I advise all Venezuelans not to pay any money to anyone. Neither for consulting, nor because you have to be dressed in a certain color, nor because they’re going to tell you which spot is the best for crossing, nor because they’re going to make you a letter of invitation or help you with any piece of paper. Gentlemen, this is all totally false because none of it is a sure thing.”
See the Spanish version of this news release for links on Spanish-language guides to applying for TPS and applying for asylum in the United States, as well as tips from the FTC and Telemundo on how immigrants can avoid scams.