Satanic rituals, cannibalism, kidnappings, and extortions drive Central American migrants to head for the US

Photo: Quadratin

Denis Sanabria hadn’t slept well for five days and felt that the emptiness in the pit of his stomach augured bad news. On that April day, he was working at his carpenter job in Nashville, Tennessee, with a saw in his hand, when the phone rang.

It was a telephone number from Mexico.

On the other end of the line, some men told him that they were holding his brother, David, 32, as well as his 4-year-old niece, Ximena. If he wanted to see them alive again, he had to send the kidnappers $7,500 in the next eight days.

When Denis asked who was on the line, he was told he didn’t get to ask questions — he just needed to get the money.

Denis said the call left him gasping. For a week he had lost communication with his brother, and the coyote (smuggler) who brought David and Ximena from Honduras didn’t answer his calls.

Denis Sanabria looks at the receipts for the payments he made to his brother David's kidnappers. (Noticias Telemundo Investiga)
Denis Sanabria looks at the receipts for the payments he made to his brother David’s kidnappers. (Noticias Telemundo Investiga)

Two hours later, the phone rang again. It was David, begging him to do what he could to get the ransom money.

Noticias Telemundo Investiga interviewed 32 migrants kidnapped from 2019 to 2021 in Mexico and the U.S. Their relatives had to pay $1,500 to $5,000 as ransom to different cartels or criminal gangs for each of kidnapped migrants.

To get the money, family members sold their vehicles or other property, took their savings from the bank, went into debt with family and friends or went out trying to ask neighbors for money.

Denis had no more options to get more money for his brother and his niece. A month earlier, he had managed to sell a car and take out all his savings to pay their smuggler, or coyote, $8,000 to bring them north through Mexico to the U.S. border.

The family in Honduras had lost everything in two hurricanes, Eta and Iota, in November. The bean and corn crops the family subsisted on in their native Cortés had been destroyed.

After the hurricanes and amid Honduras’ political turmoil, the exodus to the U.S. has increased dramatically, according to figures from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

David Sanabria and his daughter Ximena during his journey in Mexico in March 2021. (Sanabria family)
David Sanabria and his daughter Ximena during his journey in Mexico in March 2021. (Sanabria family)

According to CBP figures, 40,091 Hondurans were detained last year trying to enter the U.S. without legal permission. So far this year, the Border Patrol has recorded 98,554 migrant apprehensions, more than double the previous year.

Source: NBC News

The Yucatan Times
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