alarm over the disappearance of migrant women in the Arizona desert

Young and attractive migrants are disappearing in an area of ​​the Arizona desertTheir families have denounced the rescue group Capellanes del Desierto, which has counted at least a dozen in recent months and fears that they have fallen into a network of human trafficking.

“Only this week we have just received the report of two other cases, with these there are already 12 active cases that we haveÓscar Andrade, director of the humanitarian organization, told EFE.

He stressed that the most alarming thing is that they all follow the same pattern: young, physically attractive and missing women in the same region of the Arizona desert, in the United States.

The relatives have told Andrade that the “coyotes” tell them that they left the women in the desert because they couldn’t continuebut later they change the version arguing that the most certain thing is that the Border Patrol arrested them.

Posters from the humanitarian organization Chaplains of the Desert, in Tucson, Arizona (USA). Photo EFE

The search

For years, Chaplains of the Desert have worked in the search for the disappeared.

They go out into the desert to look for them based on the coordinates or signals that the human traffickers have given to the families.

Andrade indicated that this year the number of people reported as missing has increased considerably compared to 2021.

“We have been receiving up to 20 reports per week,” he said.

In some cases, the group has been successful in finding migrants in conjunction with Border Patrol and providing first aid, and in others they have only found lifeless bodies.

However, in the particular cases of these women they have not found any trace of them.

“We contact both the Border Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office (ICE) to see if there is a woman with the physical characteristics, just in case the person changed their name, but nothing“Andrade lamented.

The image of one of the women reported missing by their relatives.  Photo EFE

The image of one of the women reported missing by their relatives. Photo EFE

One of the disappeared is Lizet Jazmín Baryas, a 23-year-old Salvadoran immigrant of which there has been no news since last May after a second attempt to cross the Arizona desert.

She was trying to meet with her husband, Carlos Alexander Arias, who is still waiting for her in the United States.

“She tried to cross once but was arrested and deported, then she spoke to me and said she would try again. From then on I didn’t know anything about her.“Arias told EFE.

The last thing she received was a photograph of her in camouflage clothing ready to cross the desert.

“The smuggler told me that they were discovered by a Border Patrol helicopter, that they all ran, that they never saw her again. However, now the coyote doesn’t even answer my phone“said the immigrant, who lives in Chicago.

the young had paid $14,000 traffickers to take her to the United States.

“My biggest fear is that it is in the hands of the mafia, that they are prostituting it, that he has fallen into a network of white slavery”Arias said.

These fears are not unfounded, since Andrade assures that in his role as chaplain he has spoken with several coyotes to try to get clues about what could be happening or how to find these young women.

The Venezuelans, “a great business”

“These coyotes have told me that the ‘young girls,’ especially from countries like Venezuela, Brazil, they are a ‘big business’ for human traffickers or simply if one of the ‘bosses’ likes one of the girls, well, they keep them,” he said.

Andrade said that they have even doubted that these young women have really crossed the border or disappeared in Mexico.

In the case of Arias’s wife, he assures that the traffickers sent him a photo of the young woman, but it was a montage, demanding $6,000 to give him information about his whereaboutsassuring that the young woman was in the hands of a criminal group.

“Her family paid the money, however they only lied to us, now they are again contacting her mother in El Salvador, but they do not give any real proof that she is alive,” Arias said.

For his part, Daniel Hernández, spokesman for the Tucson Sector Border Patrol, told EFE that every time they receive a report of a missing person they send resources to start their search.

“Unfortunately immigrants are just ‘merchandise’ for human traffickers, we know that their hearts are not tempted to abandon them to their fate,” said Hernández.

The federal agent indicated that they have had reports of women who have been raped by the “coyote” while transporting them.

In the midst of the current migratory wave, both Chaplains of the Desert and the Border Patrol urge migrants to not to risk their lives in the hands of the coyotes.

Andrade warns women to try to stay in constant contact with family members and to call 911 if they are in danger, but advises them to try to present their asylum cases at ports of entry.

EFE Agency


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