14ymedio, Havana, 2 September 2022 — At least four municipal police officers from the Mexican state of Oaxaca were arrested for trying to extort money from coyotes, demanding 150,000 pesos (7,500 dollars) so as not to betray 25 migrants from Cuba, Guatemala and El Salvador who were crowded into a large house in the municipality of Pueblo Nuevo.
An argument between the officers and the coyotes alerted the neighbors, who realized that the civilians were not from the area. “They were arguing over a payment that wasn’t made,” a witness who identified himself as Felipe López told 14ymedio. “One of the cops threatened to take out his gun if they didn’t pay.”
According to the source, in the morning a patrol car was parked in front of the house where the migrants were hiding, which had been covered with sheeting the month before. “There was movement at night; they arrived in a van, but we had never seen the people who took them out,” López said.
“While these guys were arguing outside, we could hear some children crying inside, so we thought they were kidnappers,” the witness said. “With the support of drivers and neighbors, we surrounded the police and the coyotes, until the state security officers arrived. How could we imagine that they were migrants? The coyotes had put down cardboard on the floor for them to sleep.”
According to data from the Ministry of Public Security of Oaxaca, an investigation on the detained uniformed officers was opened for the alleged crime of extortion, but it will be the police unit that will define the punishment.
Oaxaca is a point of reference for Cubans. The Government of Mexico has detected several networks of coyotes in that region that charge between $4,500 and $10,000 for migrants going to the United States. In addition, the so-called central region is one of the main routes that traffickers exploit to transport the Island’s nationals in vans and cargo trucks.
The detained foreigners, including five children, were handed over to the National Institute of Migration of the state of Oaxaca. Their migratory status will be defined in the coming days.
In Ciudad del Carmen, on the Yucatan peninsula this Thursday, the National Guard arrested a group of 16 Cubans and Nicaraguans who were being transferred to the state of Tabasco in a van. A state security source confirmed to 14ymedio that these people would be expelled to their country of origin.
According to official figures, Mexico has repatriated 1,657 Cubans to the Island this year. This Friday, a group of 28 people arrived at José Martí International Airport in Havana.
Meanwhile, from the United States, the Coast Guard repatriated 95 rafters on board the ship William Trump on Thursday, bringing the total to 5,086 Cubans returned since October last year.
These repatriations have not stopped the arrival of rafters from the Island. This Friday, the Coast Guard announced that a boat with at least 25 Cubans was shipwrecked in front of the Florida keys.
“Partners and crews of good Samaritans responded to the shipwreck of a boat and people in the water near Islamorada as a result of an adventure of illegal immigrants,” the Coast Guard said on its social networks. “Twenty migrants were placed in custody, four allegedly landed, and the search for one, reported missing, continues.”
The rescued rafters, the government agency said, are on board a cutter and will be repatriated to Cuba.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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