Human smugglers are upgrading their services for Central Americans wanting to reach the Mexico-U.S. border. They are hiring Uber ride-sharing service for their clients.
Five vehicles traveling together with a total of 34 Central American migrants were apprehended on June 10th, in northern Mexico, between the states of Zacatecas and Coahuila, reports Reuters.
Four of those vehicles were associated with Uber, and the drivers reportedly said they did not own the cars, but were working as Uber chauffeurs.
Segismundo Doguin, a Coahuila state official at the National Migration Institute (INM), said, “First we saw them on trains, then on buses, then on trucks and today we see them in rented vehicles.”
The drivers left the northern Mexican city of Monterrey and picked up the migrants in Matehuala, 323 kilometers (201 miles) further south, Doguin said. The caravan was headed for the city of Reynosa, 551 kilometers (342 miles) north, on the border with Texas.
The migrants told investigators they each paid 3,000 pesos ($162) to make the journey, Doguin said.
Uber Mexico said in a statement it bore no responsibility, but was cooperating with authorities. “The company does not own the cars registered on the platform, nor does it employ the drivers, who are independent contractors,” Uber said.
Only three of the drivers were registered in the database, Uber said. One of them was dismissed nine months ago for unrelated reasons. The other two were discharged when the INM flagged the situation, the company said.
This is not the first time Uber cars have been used to ferry migrants, Doguin said. “About two months ago, seven other vehicles were detected in the area of San Luis Potosi state … and were also in the Uber system,” he said.
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