Posted: Jun 27, 2014 6:31 PM
Updated: Jun 30, 2014 2:58 PM
WESLACO - Border Patrol agents say drug cartels are taking advantage of the recent surge of unaccompanied minors into the United States.
The cartels' reach extends the length of the border between Mexico and the United States.
A news crew for an Arizona television station recently toured the desert with a Border Patrol spokesman near Tucson. The agent said they are not seeing the same type of surge of immigrants from countries other than Mexico, like in the Rio Grande Valley.
"These family groups, the unaccompanied juveniles, even the grown men, they're fooled by the smuggler," Border Patrol Agent Andy Adame said.
Adame said coyotes lie about short easy walks through the rough desert.
Agents in Arizona said they've seen an increase in only one group of immigrants from countries other than Mexico. Those are juveniles from Guatemala.
"We've been conducting interviews down in Guatemala, talking to them about the dangers, about the desert, about the cartels, about the rapes and the beatings and abandonment," Adame said.
"What we're telling them right now is, ‘don't come through Arizona, because it is the single most dangerous place to cross,'" Adame said.
Regardless of where they enter the country illegally, immigrants face the same criminal element along smuggling routes.
"We're dealing with a drug cartel organization. Accompanied minors, females, family groups, grown men ... it's all the same to them. They don't see a human life like we see it here. They see a dollar sign. How much is this person worth to me?" Adame said.