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Facts: Border Wars Cartel Corridor

Photo: Vehicle driving down the border

Photo: Vehicle driving down the border (View larger version)

Photo by: NGT and Kevin Cunningham

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  • The U.S. government has been working to help the Mexican government battle the illegal drug trade. The United States have provided 1.3 billion dollars in military and judicial aid to help Mexican President Felipe Calderon battle the drug mafias, a battle which has claimed the lives of 24,000 people in Mexico since 2006.

  • Grupo Beta agents in Mexico who work to deter thousands of compatriots from crossing the dangerous border into the U.S., saved nearly 5,700 people in 2007.

  • Coyotes, guides who help migrants cross the border, can face up to 12 years in prison if caught, however they are rarely given up by the migrants.

  • Kidnapping is a major concern for human rights organizations in Mexico, who cite that nearly 10,000 kidnappings took place during a six month period in 2009.

  • Sexual violence is also a major concern for migrants and a reported six out of ten migrant women and girls claim to have experienced sexual violence by criminals, rogue migrants and corrupt politicians.

  • While Grupo Beta was started as a government initiative almost 20 years ago to stop migrants or provide humanitarian aide, it currently lacks the funding to adequately support the constant stream of migrants trying to cross into the U.S.

  • Grupo Beta works to deter migrants from crossing into the dangerous terrain, even providing discounted bus tickets for would-be crossers to return home. The number of migrants returning home has increased over the years, from 689 in 2007 to over 6,000 in 2008.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has seen an increase in the number of people it has deported back to Mexico over the past few years. In 2008, they deported 350,000 people, most were sent back to Mexico, a 20% increase from the year before.

  • Under a relatively new practice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been performing workplace raids, performing sweeps to pickup illegal immigrants and charging them with identity theft and other crimes.

  • Union Pacific Railroad is currently in a legal battle with Customs and Border Protection regarding the Tariff Act of 1930. Essentially, Union Pacific has no control of trains that arrive from Mexico and once they cross the border, CBP agents investigate rapidly and the cars are then under the control of Union Pacific. Both parties are arguing over liability for the amount of drugs that are being smuggled into the U.S. by trains arriving from Mexico.

  • Customs and Border Protection impose fines and seize the railcars of Union Pacific once it finds drugs being smuggled across the border. Fines have grown to over 60 million dollars and over twenty railcars seized since the lawsuit was started in 2008.

  • Union Pacific has spent more than 72 million over the past decade in an effort to support the work of Customs and Border Protection. This money has gone to help in building facilities and observation towers, support training, buy equipment and support areas needed to protect the U.S. border, including plans to open a new rail inspection center in Eagle Pass Texas in 2010.

  • Drug smugglers use inventive ways to conceal their cargo on trains bound for the U.S. Marijuana and cocaine can be concealed in compartments or false undercarriages of railcars as well as stashed into false walls made by smugglers. These railcars are then marked to ensure the dealer in the U.S. can identify the car with the smuggled contents.

  • Railroad security in Mexico has steadily increased in since the railroad companies were privatized in 1997, however drug smugglers continue to move their shipments. Much of this is due to corruption, negligence, and even fear among the railroad workers in Mexico.

  • The U.S. government has began to intervene with Union Pacific to increase security on its trains, imposing fines and lawsuits for the company which states it has no control over trains in Mexico. They have encouraged Union Pacific to use its 26% stake in Ferromex, the largest rail company in Mexico, to pressure the company to increase security on its trains.

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