Tech by VICE

Burner Phones in the Borderlands: A Glossary

A handy guide to the vocabulary of human trafficking.

by MOTHERBOARD STAFF
Apr 14 2016, 1:30pm

Photo: Motherboard

The illegal border-crossing industry has its own unique vocabulary.

This is a guide to some of the terms and nicknames used throughout a Motherboard investigation on burner phones and human smuggling in the US-Mexico borderlands.


Ambos Nogales

("Both Nogales") a major port of entry between sister cities Nogales, Sonora, Mexico; and Nogales, Arizona

bajador

local slang for "steal," to literally "take down"; a "downer" is one who jumps guides and migrants in the desert

coyote

a guide who crosses migrants over the border on foot

enganchadores

locals who pick up migrants at bus stations and bring them to smugglers

la línea

the line separating Mexico from the US

la migra

the alphabet soup of US immigration and drug enforcement agencies operating in the borderlands.

levanton

a kidnapping

mota

marijuana

el Norte

America

plaza

cartel parlance for coveted turf, often major ports of entry like Ambos Nogales

pollo

("chicken") a migrant

pollero

("chickeneer") a human trafficker

puntero

("pointer") one who spots for polleros, often from the vantage of a hill or rooftop

teléfonos celulares de prepago / teléfonos celulares desechables

burner phones