Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

“Dona Maria “: Human Trafficker that Kidnaps Migrants

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: La Zeta

                                            Human Trafficker: America Mendoza Liberato

Zeta Investigations Jan 8, 2018

The organization led by América Mendoza Liberato ,"Doña Mary", is one of the strongest dedicated to the traffic of undocumented immigrants and kidnapping of migrants in Tijuana. Along with her brothers, her husband and daughters, they have accumulated hundreds of arrests, charging thousands of dollars over the years and accumulated criminal records.

América Mendoza Liberato has been detained 48 times trying to cross the border in an undocumented manner, but her criminal record goes further. Mexican and American agencies, as well as victims, place her as one of the main traffickers of people and kidnappers of migrants in Tijuana.

The 54-year-old woman, nicknamed "Doña Mary", "La Doña", "La Jefa" and "Doña María", started trafficking in people in the nineties, but for six years she has consolidated her criminal organization mainly with her husband, daughters and brothers.

Information shared with this Weekly indicates that the band led by América Mendoza Liberato traffics up to ten people per week, each one with a charge of an average of $12,000 USD.
"Dona Mary" also obtains money through extortion and kidnapping of migrants seeking to reach the
United States. In March 2012 three young men managed to escape from a "safe house" where they
were being held against their will.

According to the complaint filed with the Attorney General of the State (PGJE), "Doña Mary" offered to take them to the United States in exchange for $5,000, but demanded that  first their relatives in the US should deposit half of the amount. They did it.

The days passed and the migrants were not taken to the other side of the border, in addition, they were kept locked in a room, so one night they decided to escape despite Armando Agustín Scott, husband of América and deputy head of the organization who tried impede them.

Despite the fact that América Mendoza Liberato and her daughters, Dulce Adriana and Gloria
Leticia Scott Mendoza, were arrested on June 6, 2013 thanks to an arrest warrant against them, the three women were released after being placed in the women's prison facility at the  penitentiary of La Mesa, in Tijuana, BC.

This is not the only complaint. According to another criminal investigation, initiated on the US side of the border in April 2015, "Doña Mary" continues to attract migrants and deprive them of freedom until their relatives pay thousands of dollars without the certainty of crossing.

It was the case of a young woman, to whom the trafficker offered to reduce the amount of $12,000 USD to $8,000, but in return, kept her locked in a room for days, while extorting her relatives in the United State that really attracted attention.

The testimony of the victim indicates that within minutes  an acquaintance was able to offer the services of a "pollera" : America Mendoza Liberato , "La Dona",  arrived at the site aboard a black truck accompanied by her daughters Ruby Estrellita and Leticia Scott Mendoza, who explained the terms of the agreement.

Even though the person did not accept, she continued to receive pressure calls the rest of the day. At night, the woman and her daughters showed up at her house to force her into her vehicle, where she was taken to a house. "Doña Mary" communicated with the family of the victim, to whom she demanded the initial payment of $2,000, which was collected by Mendoza Liberato in a department store.

Three days the victim was kept in the house of América Mendoza, while the traffickers tried to obtain more money from the relatives, while they threatened to disappear the migrant. Finally, the woman was taken to the border crossing of San Ysidro, where she was thrown from a moving vehicle with false documents that resembled a Visa, but written in Spanish.

 Bicycles and Cell Phones:

The operation area of ​​the criminal organization headed by América Mendoza Liberato includes the mountainous areas of San Diego and the border crossing of San Ysidro.

On the Mexican side, these areas include the Matadero Canyon, as well as Colonia Mediterranean and El Mirador , near Playas de Tijuana; while their recruitment sites and where they have two security houses, are located more east of the border line, in the Colonia Libertad and Lomas Taurinas neighborhood.

Among the tactics they use are the use of  several  routes at the same time, with different groups to increase the chances that, a single group arrives in the United States and/ or, they will traffic a person as a distraction so that another group successfully crosses to the US.

Generally, "Dona Mary" et al, looks for migrants with family members already in the United States who can pay the fees, while also instructing the undocumented to not give information about their organization to US agents if they are arrested.

However, one of their best known methods is to dress and equip migrants as cyclists so that, once on the US side, they are not recognized by Border Patrol agents when they are within meters of the border.

For the use of bicycles and cycling clothes, they charge an additional fee of $ 300, even though some of the bicycles are almost useless. In this way, América Mendoza has another source of income without having to guarantee the successful crossing.

A Migrant being rescued after being abandoned by the traffickers

 In addition, She looks for drivers with criminal records to guarantee that they will try to evade and attack elements of the Border Patrol if they are detected. Unlike other organizations, the one headed by America does not use guides, but cell phones to reduce the risk of their collaborators being identified.

For example, migrants who handle bicycles receive precise instructions from the streets and avenues to follow, and then, via cell phone, inform about their point of location, preferably hiding in bushes for a driver to pick him up and transfer him or her to their destination. 

"Dona Mary's" husband and daughter, the second in command:

As deputy heads of the organization, authorities from both sides of the border are trying to locate Armando Agustín Scott, "El Negro", a 57-year-old Panamanian citizen, and Gloria Leticia Scott Mendoza, husband and daughter of "Doña Mary", respectively. Both have been arrested in Tijuana on charges of kidnapping migrants. Armando Agustin Scott participates mainly as a driver of the vehicles in which the migrants are being transported, a migrant recruiter, a money transporter and a kidnapper.

Following the denunciation of the kidnapped youths in March 2012, Scott was arrested along with three of his collaborators, Valente Leyva Hernández, José Luis González Leyva and Edith de la O Mercado, in the Colonia Libertad.

According to the testimony of the victims, the daughters of America and Armando, accompanied by Edith de la O Mercado , went to bank branches to collect the money that their relatives sent by way of ransom.

Two years earlier, in November 2010, US federal agents began to follow the vehicle where Armando  Scott was traveling accompanied by a migrant. When the car left the Bay Cities Motel in Chula Vista, California, the agents approached the two men.

The migrant declared that he had paid $5,000 to be introduced into the United States, since he did not have immigration documents, and that he would be taken to Los Angeles, California.

Meanwhile, Gloria Leticia Scott Mendoza, 31 years old, serves as deputy head of the organization and performs tasks of chauffeur and recruiter of migrants, as well as responsible for coordinating the trafficking routes of people. Nicknamed "La Leti", "Lucia" and "Gloria Ysabel", she has been arrested 10 times by the US Border Patrol, on some occasions, with up to four migrants in her vehicle.

Alfonso Rodríguez González, "El Poncho", who is also identified as a migrant transporter,  has been arrested twice in the San Diego area. In one of these cases, in February 2012, he tried to stab a Border Patrol agent who managed to board his vehicle by posing as a migrant who had just crossed the border and whom he had to move.

Another  is Juan Beltrán Soto, uncle of Gloria Leticia Scott Mendoza, arrested in August 2012, as well as Antonio Mendoza Liberato and Martín Hernández Venegas, brothers of the leader of the organization, America Mendoza Liberato.

Hernández Venegas, like his sister, has been arrested 48 times on the US side. Also known as "El Pescador", he has criminal records dating back to 1989, when he was accused of undocumented trafficking, and in 2010 he was again apprehended when he was preparing to pick up migrants in the Imperial Beach area.

Other identified drivers are Armando Gutiérrez López, Enrique Rochín Ferman, Alfredo Chamu Gómez and Joel Gustavo Damian Chamu.

The youngest daughter (and financial operator) protected by the CNDH:

At the same time that América Aguilar Mendoza,  worked as a financial operator of her mother's organization, she was in the seventh semester of pursuing a career with the Criminalistics in Tijuana.

The young woman, 23 years old, and born in Los Angeles, California, was traveling in her vehicle on the Rosas Magallón freeway, on November 15, 2016, when she was stopped by municipal agents.
When identified with a driver's license from the State of California, the police detected that America had an active arrest warrant in that State for trafficking in undocumented immigrants.

The strongest evidence against her was the testimony of Luis Beltrán Bernal, a driver of the organization, who identified América Aguilar Mendoza as the person to whom he gave the money he collected from the relatives of the migrants he was transferring.

Fifteen times, he gave her $50,000 , product and profits  of human trafficking, to the daughter of América Mendoza Liberato, in San Ysidro. The testimony of Beltrán Bernal helped his sentence be reduced to 36 months in prison.

For her part, America spent 60 days in prison and was sentenced to two years on probation in San Diego, California, but although the young woman was identified as part of the organization by the victims, her own collaborators and authorities on both sides of the border, she was the subject of a recommendation issued by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).

On December 28, 2017, the CNDH issued its recommendation number 68/2017 regarding violations of the human rights to nationality, liberty and personal security, as well as legal security through arbitrary arrest and detention, among others, directed at the City Council of Tijuana and the National Institute of Migration (INM).

The recommendation, arising from a complaint filed by Aguilar Mendoza, argues that the girl has dual citizenship, being born in the United States, but of Mexican parents, so her delivery to US authorities, without an extradition order of any means constituted a violation of her  human rights.

The CNDH recognizes that the America ( the 23 year old daughter ) had already received a conviction in the United States when the recommendation was issued, the body  also ordered the reparation of the damage to the victim, that criminal charges be brought against the officials, both federal and municipal, who participated in the arrest and surrender to US authorities and that the City Council "manages" by means of communication to remove her photograph and name of the journalistic notes of her detention.

Note: The Coyote's Bicycle by Kimball Taylor, a fascinating cross cultural read about this border area


  1. 12 thousand dollars to cross the border! Oh hey, a little much!!

    1. 1:58 that is $10 000.00 USD ransom included, getting you safely to the US is not usually the main money maker, then you must do your own pedaling on a 5 dollar bicycle or get sent back.

  2. Some of Google's bikes that are apparently routinely stolen from its California headquarters have been traced to Mexico. Perhaps repurposed?

    1. Pos a güebo, what kind of pendent "rents" 10 000.00 bicycles for 50 cents USD and expects to see some money back?
      Only Ricardo Pierdant, EPN's grade school buddy that also pays for "La Pinchi Gabiota" two floors of apartments in FLORIDA and the real estate taxes makes money out of that pinche business.
      Of course, he is getting g to own all the Mexican marine pkrts, train stations and airports to manage exclusiverly...3nforced by marinas, soldiers and polesias federales.

  3. Is garbage people like these one that we desperately need the dead penalty

    1. Shes no better then those zetas that killed 72 migrants just so they can go to the america dream and hijacking buses and sending innocent civilians to there death. I don't believe the gladiator fights and throwing the victims kids in acid. They just executed for refusing to join. The casino inferno in Monterrey was the deadliest by them. The bombing in morelia on there independence day. Who did that off topic. I heard it was los zetas and i heard the suspect was capture but it wasn't confirmed.

  4. looks like a harmless old grandmother . Probably sold her grandchildren though .

  5. shit . I used to transport all the way across texas into Oklahoma for 200 . that was a real long time ago

  6. Rubi Estrellita esta my bonita,
    Let go of all the others or they will sing and name names, but the money is gone, treating the US like a rancho bicicletero is one big pinchi joke, but not funny at all.

  7. So how is a wall supposed to stop this?

    1. It won’t .
      Besides , that area has more Wall already and more surveillance than most of the rest of “ the border”.

  8. Evil little bitch!
    A vulture who preyed on those migrants for monetary gain.
    Goes to show that evil comes in all forms, shapes and size!
    Nevertheless, a slap in the face with its sentencing guidelines.


  9. My favorite line in the article: Armando Agustin Scott participates mainly as a driver of the vehicles in which the migrants are being transported, a migrant recruiter, a money transporter and a kidnapper.
    THAT is her Husband’s RESUME !

  10. We need to start locking these fools up forever in the us, we need a 3 strikes border hopping rule, get rolled 3 times comitting felonies in the us or jumping the border 3 times automatic life sentance,

    1. 8:51 no mames,
      serias el primero en agarrar cadena perpetua por feo nomás.
      Another for the ignorance and one more strike for GÜEY.
      Ya mejor que te arrastren pal callejón.

  11. Does anybody know if any of them got out of jail. I KNOW THEM.


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