UPDATE 1-Smugglers use Uber-registered drivers to move migrants to U.S. border
(Adds Uber does not offer services in Matehuala)
By Alizeh Kohari
MEXICO CITY, June 30 (Reuters) - Human traffickers are finding increasingly creative ways of shuttling Central American migrants through Mexico to the U.S. border and that includes hiring Uber-registered drivers.
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 were not the owners of the cars but worked as Uber chauffeurs, he said.
Uber Mexico said in a statement that it bore no responsibility but was cooperating with authorities.
"The company does not own the cars registered on the platform, nor does it employ the drivers, who are independent contractors," Uber 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. Continuación...