According to CBP figures, 40,091 Hondurans were detained in 2020 while 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.
David’s coyote was supposed to drop them off at the Texas border, where he was going to turn himself in, along with this daughter, to U.S. immigration authorities and seek asylum.
But when they reached Reynosa in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, the coyote handed them over to an armed group.
According to Denis, the coyote deceived them, because the fee he paid was supposed to include what was to be paid to criminals for going through their territory.
From crossing Mexico to becoming hostages
For a month on the road, David and his daughter slept in abandoned houses, on the edge of the train tracks and under trees. They ate what they were given in migrant shelters on their way to northern Mexico. Nothing resembled what the coyote had promised.
When they arrived in Monterrey, in Nuevo León, they were put in the back of a truck with eight other migrants on their way to Reynosa.
At the city gates, the vehicle stopped on the orders of a group of armed men. They made all the migrants come out and inspected them one by one.
“They searched me, they took away the backpack I was carrying, they threw me face down,” David said.
They were taken to a warehouse, asked for their cellphones and asked who was their U.S. relative who was paying for the trip. Then they were kidnapped and told that if they wanted to be released, their relatives had to pay for the right to transit through the area.
“They told me they were the ones who commanded the border of the river and Reynosa, that they were from the Gulf cartel,” David said.
They were in a cellar for two days, and from there they were transferred to the desert. There were green tents set up under some bushes to camouflage the hostage camp. David estimates that there were about 50 migrants, mostly Hondurans.
“They made us put up with hunger and thirst, they only fed us once a day. It was almost always rice, beans and a glass of water,” he said, adding he would end up giving his food to his daughter to keep her fed.
As the days passed, David’s health began to deteriorate. He had weakness, fatigue, headache and dehydration symptoms. Every time the kidnappers arrived with his cellphone, he knew it was time to call his brother to pressure him and ask him to pay.
Denis said he would explain to the kidnappers on the phone that he had no money. “But they did not accept anything, they told me that I had to wash cars, sell chewing gum, beg in the streets, but that the money had to be paid if I wanted to see them alive,” he said.
‘They dismembered them with a machete’
Every time Denis said he had no money, David earned himself a beating. His daughter cried when she saw him bleeding on the floor.
David said that when the deadline arrived for other migrants and their families had not been able to pay the ransom, the captives were murdered right there in the camp.
“With a machete they dismembered them, killed them,” David said, “and the only thing I could do was cover my daughter’s eyes and ears so that she would not know what was happening, nor would she have those memories for her whole life.”
When this happened, David said the corpses were cooked and the surviving migrants were served the human meat, “so that there would be no trace of anything — that’s what one had to eat.”
One of the things that most affected David was seeing the satanic rituals that the kidnappers performed at night.