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Working Group Created to Address People Smuggling in the Wake of Mexico’s Migrant Tragedy

Mexico, the United States, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic have joined forces to create the Immediate Action Group.

The Mexican government has announced a working group to combat people smuggling following a truck crash on December 9 that resulted in mass fatalities.

The tragic accident that occurred in Chiapas has so far claimed the lives of 55 people of different nationalities and left more than a hundred injured, all allegedly victims of an international network of human trafficking. More than 150 people were crammed into the truck’s trailer. The vehicle was reportedly speeding when it flipped on a sharp bend and hit a pedestrian bridge on a main road.

Mexico, the United States, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic have joined forces to create the Immediate Action Group. The group will work to investigate, identify, apprehend and bring to justice the members and leaders of the transnational criminal organization responsible for the Chiapas tragedy. Each country will undertake the investigation in its territory and, in addition to the existing legal cooperation tools, a mechanism will be established to exchange information in order to present results to the relatives and the public in general as soon as possible.

The U.S.-Mexico border is the deadliest single crossing in the world according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This year alone, at least 650 people have died trying to cross the border – more than in any other year since IOM records began.  Across the Americas, 1,121 migrant journey deaths were recorded this year – including the latest tragedy in Chiapas – also higher than other years. More deaths were recorded in South America than ever before, with 64 of 137 deaths involving Venezuelan nationals. Globally, the number of deaths this year is already more than the 4,236 total recorded in 2020. Considering fatal incidents are often recorded weeks or months later, the final toll in 2021 is likely to be much higher.

IOM says mass tragedies involving migration have increasingly become normalized, and urges countries to develop policy and practice to reduce the risks that many people on the move are forced to take during migration journeys. While most countries focus investment on securing their own borders, more focus is needed for the countries that people migrate from in order to make them more attractive places to stay. Migration drivers are many and varied and include conflict, climate change, food security and political unrest. Often these problems cannot be tackled internally, making international support essential.

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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