Inside a smuggling operation transferring migrants throughout the US-Mexico border


In most other places in Mexico, this might have just been some workers doing construction without the right truck for the job.

Two human smugglers, called polleros in this part of the world, were in the car along with two migrants in the backseat who wanted to cross illegally into the United States. And as we would soon see, the group would use that rebar column as a makeshift ladder to hoist those two migrants up and over the wall and into the US.

The resurgence has also put a renewed focus on the role human smugglers play in getting so many migrants to the border.
A smuggler leads two migrants toward the wall on the US-Mexico border in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, dragging the makeshift ladder.

The business of migrant smuggling

The smugglers are brothers and run the business out of their family home, smuggling people into the US with the help of one brother’s 14-year-old son. Makeshift ladders laid out in the backyard were the only real giveaway of the family business.

“It’s super light,” said the 14-year-old, picking up one of the ladders. He works with his father and uncle moving somewhere between 10…