Human smugglers hail Uber drivers to take migrants to US-Mexico border

jueves 30 de junio de 2016 10:47 GYT

By Alizeh Kohari

MEXICO CITY, June 30 (Reuters) - Human traffickers, who are finding increasingly creative ways to shuttle Central American migrants through Mexico to the U.S. border, have begun to use the Uber ride-sharing service.

On June 10, five vehicles carrying 34 Central American migrants were apprehended while traveling together between the northern Mexican states of Zacatecas and Coahuila, said Segismundo Doguin, a Coahuila state official at the National Migration Institute (INM).

Four of the vehicles were linked to the Uber Technologies Inc platform, Doguin said, but it was unclear whether the human smugglers had hailed the drivers using the Uber app. The drivers said they weren't the owners of the cars but worked as Uber chauffeurs, he said.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of Central American children and families trying to reach the United States this year, a hot button issue in the U.S. presidential race. Republican candidate Donald Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep them out.

Mexican migration officials attribute the increase to migrants finding new routes past checkpoints, increasingly through varied forms of transport.

"First we saw them on trains, then on buses, then on trucks and today we see them in rented vehicles," Doguin told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.

The drivers left the northern Mexican city of Monterrey and picked up the migrants in Matehuala, 323 kilometers (201 miles) further south, Doguin said. The caravan was headed for the city of Reynosa, 551 kilometers (342 miles) north, on the border with Texas.

The migrants told investigators they each paid 3,000 pesos ($162) to make the journey, Doguin said.   Continuación...