The Guardian

'Everyone gets paid': Mexico’s migration networks are thriving despite crackdown

President López Obrador says new immigration plan is working, but huge numbers of people still travel north – aided by smugglers’ bribes
Central American migrants walk from Corozal’s border in the south of Chiapas to Palenque. Photograph: Encarni Pindado/The Guardian

Mario Rosales is organising travel arrangements for his latest clients, a Honduran woman and her two primary school-aged children hoping to reach the United States.

Rosales, 47, a coyote, or people smuggler, sends their photos via WhatsApp to his contact in the Mexican National Immigration Institute (INM) in order to obtain fake identity cards – all part of the family’s travel package, which costs $1,800 per person to traverse about half (1,750km) of the region’s most dangerous migration route.

Rosales (not his real name), is one of 10 or so coyotes operating in La Técnica, a tiny border town in north-west Guatemala, where hundreds of migrants from Central America and the Caribbean cross into Mexico

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