ABC Witnesses ‘First of Its Kind Raid’ of Human Smugglers in Guatemala

While NBC Nightly News was worried about President Trump slapping tariffs on Mexican goods because of their ineffectiveness in stemming the flow of migrants through their country and to the U.S., ABC’s World News Tonight went on a ride-along with Guatemala police in the “first of its kind raid on the human smugglers.”

With the on-screen headline reading “on the front lines of human smuggling crisis,” correspondent Matt Gutman set the scene. “In the predawn darkness, nearly 200 Guatemalan cops got their orders, loaded up, and fanned out,” he said. “Every one of these police units, it has its own prosecutor who’s riding along.”

According to Gutman, “more migrants make the journey from Guatemala than any other nation” and government statistics showed that 110,000 total illegal border crossers were apprehended in April.

After showing footage of Gutman riding in the back of a pickup truck surrounded by police officers, he explained to viewers how much the trips up north really cost people:

We arrive just moments after this man, alleged to be the transportation head of a large human smuggling ring, is cuffed. Migrants pay coyotes, or smugglers, on average about $6,000. They must often pawn everything they know just to try to reach the U.S. border. U.S. Homeland Security investigators, some whose identity we've concealed here, providing Intel to their Guatemalan counterparts. Part of a new strategy to go after smugglers with the intensity they go after drug traffickers.

 

 

Gutman spoke with acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan who said the smugglers were essentially lying and taking advantage of poor people because the asylum admittance rate was so low. “They will eventually be subject to removal and that's a false promise that these smugglers are offering them and they’re giving up their life savings,” McAleenan lamented.

“How many people do you think they have smuggled into the U.S. or at least north into Mexico,” Gutman asked Homeland Security regional attaché Eddy Dolan during the raid. “Thousands,” the U.S. official responded.

In wrapping up his report, Gutman recalled that he spoke with illegal immigrants just sent back to Guatemala on Thursday who planned to try again:

Consequently, David, many of those migrants are deported back to their home counties. Some of them caught at the border, some after being in the United States for years. Now, the group here is part of 381 migrants deported back to Guatemala today alone. Many of them tell me they're going to try to go back up north to the United States.

Just before Gutman’s report, anchor David Muir reported on President Trump’s tweet showing Border Patrol video of the largest border crossing apprehension to date. “1,036 people crossing near El Paso,” Muir noted.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

ABC’s World News Tonight
May 30, 2019
6:43:46 p.m. Eastern

DAVID MUIR: And we took note of a new record set at the southern border today. The largest group of migrants and asylum seekers apprehended. 1,036 people crossing near El Paso. President Trump tweeting this video from the Border Patrol, showing the line of people streaming across. Officials say most were from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

And tonight, ABC's Matt Gutman is in Guatemala with U.S. authorities, witnessing the first of its kind raid on the human smugglers. They make money bringing people to the U.S.

[Cuts to video]

MATT GUTMAN: In the predawn darkness, nearly 200 Guatemalan cops got their orders, loaded up, and fanned out. ABC News was there on this first of a kind raid.

Every one of these police units, it has its own prosecutor who’s riding along.

We arrive just moments after this man, alleged to be the transportation head of a large human smuggling ring, is cuffed. Migrants pay coyotes, or smugglers, on average about $6,000. They must often pawn everything they know just to try to reach the U.S. border. U.S. Homeland Security investigators, some whose identity we've concealed here, providing Intel to their Guatemalan counterparts. Part of a new strategy to go after smugglers with the intensity they go after drug traffickers.

How many people do you think they have smuggled into the U.S. or at least north into Mexico?

EDDY DOLAN [Homeland Security]: Thousands.

GUTMAN: In April, about 110,000 migrants were stopped crossing into the United States, including a record number of children, 40,000. More migrants make the journey from Guatemala than any other nation. Most try to claim asylum after that perilous trek. It's something the Trump administration is hoping to crack down on.

KEVIN MCALEENAN: Only about 10 percent will have a valid asylum claim. They will eventually be subject to removal and that's a false promise that these smugglers are offering them and they’re giving up their life savings.

[Cuts back to live]

GUTMAN: Consequently, David, many of those migrants are deported back to their home counties. Some of them caught at the border, some after being in the United States for years. Now, the group here is part of 381 migrants deported back to Guatemala today alone. Many of them tell me they're going to try to go back up north to the United States. David?

MUIR: All right, Matt Gutman with the unfolding scene there behind him in Guatemala. Matt, thank you.

NB Daily Immigration Broadcast Television ABC World News Tonight Video Matt Gutman David Muir

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