How Mexican cartels extort migrants at the border

How Mexican cartels extort migrants at the border

Migration is a complex phenomenon that has affected numerous countries in recent years. In the case of the US-Mexico border, many migrants face a new form of extortion by Mexican cartels.

Path to the border

Migrants’ journey to Mexico’s northern border is long and dangerous. Many of them come from countries such as Venezuela, where the economic and political crisis has forced millions of people to seek new opportunities abroad.

In their search for a better life, these migrants face numerous challenges, including extortion by Mexican cartels.

CBP One application: a hope for migrants

In October 2020, the U.S. government launched the CBP One app, a mechanism to manage the entry of migrants across the southern border. This system allowed migrants to schedule appointments with U.S. immigration authorities and thus enter the country legally. For many migrants, this application represented hope and an opportunity to follow the rules and avoid the dangers of irregular border crossings.

Ambush in Nuevo Laredo

However, Mexican cartels have found a new way to extort migrants who use the CBP One app. An example of this is what happened in Nuevo Laredo, where a Venezuelan family was kidnapped and extorted by armed men dressed as police and plainclothes.

These individuals posed as immigration authorities and threatened the family with harm if they did not pay a sum of money.

Forced dream of reaching the United States

For this Venezuelan family, the United States became a dream forced by circumstances. The husband and wife were public employees in Maracaibo, but the economic crisis in Venezuela forced them to close their business and look for new opportunities.

However, the extortion threats they received led them to make the decision to emigrate to the United States.

Tragic journey through the Darien Gap

A migrant’s journey from Venezuela to Mexico is long and dangerous. The couple had to cross the thick jungle of the Darien Gap, where they witnessed the death of other migrants and were stopped by armed men who demanded money. They finally made it to Nuevo Laredo, but encountered a new threat: Mexican cartels.

The role of the cartels on the border

Mexican cartels, especially the Zetas Cartel, have extended their influence to the U.S.-Mexico border. These criminal organizations have found in migrants a new source of income through extortion. They kidnap migrants, demand large sums of money and threaten them with harm if they do not comply with their demands.

Extortion in Nuevo Laredo

In the case of the Venezuelan family, the armed men who kidnapped them demanded a sum of money to allow them to continue with their immigration appointment. The couple tried to contact their relatives in the United States to obtain the money, but were unsuccessful. Finally, they were released and sent to a bus terminal, without the possibility of legally entering the United States.

Impact of extortion on migrants

Extortion by Mexican cartels has a devastating impact on migrants’ lives. Many of them invest all their savings in the journey and find themselves in a desperate situation when they are extorted. In addition to the economic aspect, extortion also has a psychological impact on migrants and can leave lasting emotional scars.

Measures to combat extortion

Mexican and U.S. authorities are taking steps to combat extortion by Mexican cartels at the border. Security operations are being implemented to identify and capture those responsible for these crimes. In addition, protection and assistance mechanisms for migrants are being strengthened to ensure their safety and well-being.


Mexican cartels’ extortion of migrants at the border is a serious problem that requires a coordinated response from authorities in both countries. It is critical to protect the rights of migrants and ensure their safety during the migration process.

In addition, it is necessary to address the underlying causes of migration and work towards long-term solutions that allow people to find opportunities in their own countries. Combating extortion and protecting the rights of migrants should be high on the political agenda of both countries.