MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican officials said Monday they have uncovered an industrial-scale migrant smuggling ring using tractor-trailer rigs disguised as freight deliveries for major companies.
President Andres Manuel López Obrador said authorities found a tractor-trailer disguised with the logo of Soriana, a major grocery store chain. But instead of groceries, it was carrying about 150 migrants.
In a statement Monday, Soriana wrote that “the truck detained Saturday in Veracruz state does not belong to our delivery fleet, nor is it owned by the Soriana Organization.”
“The company has filed a complaint, because it was fake, it was camouflage to transport migrants,” López Obrador said.
In June, Mexico detected five freight trucks carrying 925 migrants, almost all from Central America. Some of those trucks bore the logos of well-known firms, though it was not clear if those trucks were also fakes or had been used illegally by drivers without the companies’ knowledge.
Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said that four or five of the freight trucks found in June belonged to the same independent trucking company, based in central Mexico.
Ebrard said the company operated trucks equipped with air conditioning units, but those weren’t turned on when carrying migrants.
“The risk they are putting people in, half of them are minors,” Ebrard said. “They are locking them in trailers to cross the entire country. They leave them there for hours, they could die of asphyxia.”
It led officials to believe it was just a matter of time before migrants would die aboard the overcrowded vehicles.
“The biggest concern is that there is going to be a tragedy, that is what we don’t want,” said López Obrador.