Inside a Terrifying Stop for Migrants Heading to the US
We traveled to a nearly inaccessible spot in the Sonora desert where organized crime groups detain people on their way to North America.
All images by Daniel Ojeda/VICE News
This article originally appeared on VICE Mexico. Leer en Español.
Deep in the Sonoran Desert, between the Mexican municipalities of Altar and Sásabe along the US border, sits a desolate place called La Ladrillera.
Barely anything has been written about the place—which is almost inaccessible—nor about the horrors undocumented Mexicans and Central Americans have endured there as part of their attempts to cross the US border.
La Ladrillera was originally a colony where red adobe walls were made. Today, the area is comprised of several structures used by an organized crime syndicate to detain men, women, and children on their way north. Hundreds—and perhaps thousands—of immigrant travelers have spent hours and days there in fear and anguish.
The area is said to be controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel, which includes multiple gangs of human traffickers and (allegedly) plenty of cops with questionable morals. The Cartel is believed to allow polleros (people smugglers) or coyotes and bajadores—gunmen who assault the polleros in order to seize their migrants and extort their families—to operate with impunity.
VICE Mexico traveled to this disturbing place, where we were able to document the evidence of the pain some of these migrants have experienced.
All of the following photos were taken by Daniel Ojeda.