Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

"La Cuota"

Thursday, April 21, 2011 |

Searching for the missing in San Fernando

She constantly massaged her feet as she talked, badly blistered from several days of wandering the brush country of northern Tamaulipas and south Texas in her latest illegal crossing into the U.S.

She is an “expert” now, aware of all the nuances and the dangers and the importance of contracting with the right “Pollero”, or human trafficker. She explained what might go wrong during the journey to the border and the vital importance of paying “la Cuota”, or tax to the right Zeta operative to ensure that severe consequences would not be encountered.

Although the conversation took place earlier in the middle of March before the news of the abductions and murders of travelers on public bus lines broke, the rumors of horrible incidents befalling migrants traveling through Tamaulipas was already common knowledge. These dangers have always been part of the journey, she said, the deaths of those 72 Central Americans was nothing new.

“Tienes que andar lista, bien pilas o te lleva el corriente”- “You’ve got to really be heads up, or you’ll be swept away”

Although it is impossible to confirm her story, it may explain the motive for at least some of the murders in San Fernando, those of migrants that were taken off the buses and killed.

She is from the city of Guanajuato. She barely survives in the informal economy when at home, the dreams of landing a decent job with a bachelor’s degree in sociology long since abandoned. That is the reality for the poor in Mexico, and education rarely makes a difference.

She explained how human trafficking networks operate.

“You have to find a good, experienced ‘pollero’ (human trafficker) first of all, not the young unreliable punks starting out. The payment is collected in U.S currency once the pollito (client) is delivered to the agreed upon point after crossing the border, usually paid by a family member already residing in the U.S.”

“If they don’t deliver the pollito, they don’t get paid”

“First you have to pay a deposit of 4,000 pesos to the pollero. This money isn’t his but is used to pay the ‘cuota’ or tax charged by Los Zetas for safe passage of every migrant traveling through their territory.”

“There are Zetas in every “central de autobuses” or bus depots, definitely in the states of Guanajuato and Zacatecas. They are there to collect the tax from the polleros for all the clients that will be crossed into the U.S.”

“They also make note of all the migrants that don’t pay and the buses they are traveling on. Sometimes a young pollero will keep the deposit and not pay the Zeta or will promise that they can make the journey without paying. Or sometimes the migrants travel on their own to save on the costs.”

“After paying the cuota the pollero is given a comprobante, or receipt, that should ensure safe passage through Zeta territory and be honored by other Zeta cells and this usually works smoothly.”

“Your pollero has to have that comprobante if you are stopped by other Zetas, if not there may be severe consequences.”

“The Zeta receipt can also work against the pollero if he is stopped by a contra (rival) group. He might even be killed for paying the Zeta tax and the clients will be taken away.”

“This can happen if your crossing the border at Reynosa or Matamoros where the Gulf cartel is in control.”

“The pollero can pay a second cuota to the Gulf gangs but if the Zetas find out they may kill him.”

“The polleros are astute businesspeople and usually pay only one cuota. In our case we got off the bus about 10 miles from Reynosa and walked cross country in a wide arc around the city to avoid being kidnapped or killed by the Gulf people for not paying their cuota. We didn’t have a CDG comprobante”


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14 Borderland Beat Comments:

Buela said...

Gerardo

another poignant post.

Gerardo, do you write most of your posts? Gerardo originals? when I check to see the origin of a story its usally you.

Gracias y Saludos

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that everything is fucked up there!These cuotas, payments, compobantes would make you total sick! You r just the part of a big mechanism working out on the people`s sweat, blood and tears!!! I think that the army should be deployed in the area of the biggest routes leading to the US so that the passangers could feel a little relief that they at least wont be tortured and end up with a Plomo en su cabeza!

Anonymous said...

One more reason to building one HUGE fence

DC said...

I would gladly trade all the garbage hispanic gangbanging idiots in the u.s. for these hardworking migrants who know the real value of opportunity and honest hard work.

Anonymous said...

Mexicans exploiting everybody and anybody,the greed,slavery in 2011. What type of punishment is appropiate for those who traffic in desperet humans,kidnap kill ransom. The UN ,the US,all the human rights industry,here is a project truly deserving attention,one that needs to be taken from the hands of the incompitent Mexicans. International crimes against humanity,sound familiar,Well if the UN can poilce in Former Russia,and Africa, THEN WHY NOT MEXICO ?? MEXICO has never in its existance been able to have a political (govt) system that was responsive,performed,honored its contract with the people,what Objective evidence is there to conclude it will ever be different, more promises,more propaganda. THE UN NEEDS TO INVADE MEXICO !!

Anonymous said...

@ 7:50 yes because a HUGE fence is the solution lol.... If they dont go through the desert they will just pay a Border Patrol agent to get them across. A HUGE fence will not stop the flow of illegals or the flow of drugs. If you kept up with BB, you could have seen that guys like Chapo will just build a tunnel and send the drugs through a tunnel. About the illegal immigration problem, as long as rich white people keep hiring illegals it wont stop, just like the drug problem. If you dont control the market, these things will keep happening. I hate it when Mexico blames the US, or vice versa. This is a problem that BOTH countries need to solve. The US is not in the position of solely blaming Mexico for it's drug problem.. If its not South American cocaine then its Asian Heroin, if its not California marijuana then its Crystal Meth from the Midwest.. Americans have an incredible appetite for vices..
Now about Mexico, where can I start? First of all CORRUPTION, most if not all Mexican politicians are in it for their own benefit. They dont care if they have to step over everyone to make money. I was in Oaxaca a year ago, there I found out that the Mexican govt 20 years ago decided to take over 500 acres off a family, did not receive a single peso, and then sold it to international investors for millions.. Several politicians pocketed that money! PAN, PRI, PRD they are all the same. The step sons of Vicente Fox, Martha Sagun, own some of the best property in Mexico's beaches.
What I am trying to say is that both countries are at fault, Mexico more than the US. Therefore both countries need to work together for a solution.

Anonymous said...

If you all "Mexicans" don't like it..Do something about it..Why wait for someone to bail you out?

Anonymous said...

That's right, we fat-ass americans have our problems, yes, but Mexicans need to rise up. It's time. Yall need to head for the capital and do what you gotta do to take over. The world will understand your plight. Make some fuckin news for godsake and take this country back!

Anonymous said...

@ 12:19 Making news is really important and harder to do since the major mexican news media made their agreement to downplay the bad stuff. I really believe this is where BB can make a big difference/contribution.

Get ALL the narco war news out there and write about the effect of the media "agreement". The world/USA does not know what is going on. The mass graves have been going on for a long time - the numbers of bodies are much bigger than reported. The mexican govt actively tries to cover up any and all negative news.

Anonymous said...

You want me to pay you a cuota ? Ching tu madre !!!

Anonymous said...

So that's what the mass killings all about? Nothing more that pay a toll, don't they have family too! Wow what sick minds devoid of any humanity , where's the state? Oh they will serve the people up for a little money themselves, sad state of affairs in Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Preying on the weakest in society...these groups are cowards.

The only way this will all probably be stopped is to starve them out. Immigrants stop coming, no cuota. As the good people leave, it should obvious who the bad guys are..and the military should get the job done.

Anonymous said...

After serving 20 years and fighting in three conflicts, I can not express how glad that honest people in the USA are allowed to own firearms.

At this stage of my life, I have done all I have ever wanted to do, so if I see any of these guys beating, or trying to kill any innocent Mexican or American folks, it will be one round between the eyes.

Anonymous said...

@7:53 I agree, weapons do not kill people, bad people do..

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