Salvadoran Coyote: Migrant smuggling is “a social work”

A “coyote” does “honest work, similar to an NGO, but charging money because he is an entrepreneur,” Efe Mario, a 32-year-old Salvadoran who has been involved in the smuggling of migrants from Salvador to the United States, told Efe.

“Bringing people from one country to another, because in theirs they do not give them the chance to live in dignity, it is the closest thing to the work of an NGO, a social work. Only a good person can dedicate himself to this,” he said.

“In exchange for very little money,” he insisted, “coyotes” perform “a necessary task for the society that wants to evolve and that seeks a better life.”

According to the trafficker, who asked not to reveal his real identity and refused to be filmed or photographed, those who seek the services of a coyote pay between 6,000 and 20,000 dollars to be transferred, but, “if once it goes wrong and must return, Have two more opportunities to try it at no cost. ”

The difference in price is due to the chosen route and the “guarantee” to arrive at destination in a first attempt; With $ 20,000 “can almost be assured that they arrive without problems”, since that money “gives to distribute among all those who help along the way”, such as customs agents, police or drug traffickers.

The “group” that facilitates this traffic is a chain of “coyote employees” who are at each point of the journey to the United States and “can be from a woman who has a little house to accommodate the travelers, Even a high official willing to sell himself for doing as he does not see what is happening, “explained Mario.

The interviewee refused to specify how much money he has left after paying his “necessary collaborators” and maintained that “it is not so much as people believe, but you can not say quantities, because it is not always the same and, in addition, it is Undeclared money “.

“If they stop us, we know that we will spend several years in jail and that is why we have to go with a lot of precautions and have the help of everyone who gives us their cooperation in exchange for a few dollars,” added Mario.

The Salvadoran insisted on several occasions that he is a “worker, an entrepreneur, not a delinquent.”

The penalty for the crime of trafficking in persons in El Salvador includes between 8 and 12 years of imprisonment, in addition to the aggravating circumstances that may exist in each particular case, such as the accidental or unintentional death of any of the victims, injuries or drug trafficking , among others.

Mario does not understand that his “work” is not “valued”, like that of the Oenegés.
“On more than one occasion” his life “ran high risk, to protect travelers,” he said.

“Some routes are safer than others, but they all have their delicate points and you have to be very careful, because something unforeseen can always happen, many times you have traveled and no matter how well you know the way,” explained the coyote “.

He recalled that “on one occasion, arriving at the border of Mexico with the United States,” he and 45 people he led had to be submerged in a lake, where they spent “several hours”, not to be discovered by a patrol of the Mexican police.

“They are difficult situations and I always have to take care of a phone that works well all the way, it is necessary to be communicated with the group from the departure to the arrival,” he explained.

He assured that “always” seeks the “safety” of those who travel, “because they are people with families that depend on them and it is important to give them protection all the time, even if you play your life.”

The trafficker has “more than 70 trips” to his credit, but only on four occasions he “personally” arrived in the United States because it is more “profitable” to leave the travelers at the border, “in good hands that will do them Reach their destinations without problem “.

On three occasions he traveled from El Salvador to Colombia to “move people there, who needed someone to take them to North America”, but “it was not all that he had thought” so he will not “come back from Central America to search People, “he said, without specifying what happened.

Mario does “collect” in El Salvador citizens from various South American countries, “sent by colleagues from various places” to follow the path.

“I do not know what can happen before they arrive in El Salvador and I am not responsible for that, but since they arrive here they are in good hands,” insisted the coyote, who said that each trip takes between 30 and 60 migrants Irregular

Mario presumes to have “very few returns of people”, both from Mexico and the US, but refuses to provide a precise or approximate figure, as well as talk about “other types of problems” that mentions Efe, but of those who do not want ” Give explanations, and less to journalists. ”

He maintained that his “clients” do have all the information because “they have to be trusted and truthful, but beyond travelers, there is no explanation.”

“Before starting the trip, they are given all the information and they are answered to all their questions, and they are asked for discretion, it would be strange that now I give them them. Said Mario.

In the course of the interview, which begins with a certain naturalness, Mario is uncomfortable and his tone becomes defensive and threatening, as when asked about the abuses committed with the migrants.

“It is said that we abandon people on the road, that we mistreat them, rob them, steal, I never did,” he said.

“You have the obligation to tell the truth, not to lie, to say that they (the migrants) are safe, well fed, well hydrated and well cared for, so I hope they do and do not put things in my mouth that I do not I said, “he claimed.

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