[Stop-traffic] News/US: Smugglers of illegal immigrants face hostile threat from other smugglers

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/US: Smugglers of illegal immigrants face hostile threat from other smugglers
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue Oct 10 2000 - 16:32:22 EDT


Smugglers of illegal immigrants face hostile threat from other smugglers
By Arthur H. Rotstein
The Associated Press, September 8, 2000

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Some immigrant smugglers are adding a new twist
to the high-profit, high-risk illicit business. They're kidnapping
each others' customers.

It's happened at least a half-dozen times in the past year at
``drophouses'' around Phoenix, said Russell Ahr, special assistant to
the Immigration and Naturalization Service's district director for
Arizona and Nevada.

Frequently, violence ensues. Three shooting deaths in April 1999
resulted from one smuggling group ripping off another, according to
Ahr.

On Tuesday night in Phoenix, police found 41 undocumented immigrants
being held in a home after a gang took them at gunpoint from
smugglers holding their human cargo at another site. One smuggler was
``physically brutalized'' by other smugglers, Ahr said.

Police, who had received a tip, arrested several people.

Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico and
Central America, pay smugglers each year to take them across the
Mexican border and help them reach locations in the United States.
Most are seeking higher paying jobs than they can find at home.

In cases of kidnapping, illegal immigrants or their families are
forced to pay their abductors in exchange for getting them to their
destinations.

``It's not something that was very often encountered a few years ago,
but our agents have reported some cases where one group of
undocumenteds have been stolen, kidnapped, ripped off ... and then
used as chips against their families to get these people out,'' Ahr
said.

Typically, professional smugglers who bring undocumented immigrants
across the border take them to drophouses or safe houses. Payments
may be demanded then or incrementally -- both at the border locations
and at the drophouses.

Smugglers get immigrants to provide names and phone numbers of
relatives to call to send money.

Only when the money arrives will the immigrants be put on airplanes
or buses and sent to their final destinations.

At INS regional headquarters in Laguna Nigel, Calif., spokeswoman
Sharon Gavin said smugglers horning in on other smugglers' action
imperils immigrants and the neighborhoods where drophouses are
located.

``The smuggling trade has become so lucrative that we're fearful that
this kind of activity will escalate,'' Gavin said.
Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

Please contact me off-list for any questions about Stop-Traffic at
<<morhant@igc.org>>.

Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
Program for Appropriate Technology in Health
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dealing with human rights abuses associated with trafficking
in persons, with an emphasis on public health and trafficking
in persons for forced labor, including forced prostitution,
sweatshop labor, domestic service and some coercive mail
order bride arrangements.
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