Mexican border agency seen as aiding illegal immigration
South of the border, Grupo Beta is seen as a humanitarian organization that steers north-bound migrants through the crossfire of warring drug cartels. But in Texas, many view it as part of a pipeline that sends humans and drugs pouring into the U.S., all with the funding and backing of the Mexican government.
Grupo Beta, supported by Mexico’s National Institute of Migration, may be the sole bastion of relief for migrants in Tamaulipas state, across the border from the southeast Texas region which includes such cities as Brownsville, Laredo and McAllen. The 25 year-old agency was created to help Tijuana deal with huge numbers of migrants passing through, but has since expanded its reach across both the northern and southern borders of Mexico. Critics say the agency, whose motto “vocation, humanitarianism and loyalty,” is complicit in breaking U.S. laws.
“I’ve seen so much crazy stuff out here,” said Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council. “Grupo Beta was formed with good intention but there have been members of the organization caught smuggling.”
Three-quarters of U.S.-bound Central American migrants pass through Tamaulipas, according to Grupo Beta spokesman Luis Carlos Cano. The trail is blazed by the infamous rail line known as “La Bestia,” which regularly chug northward packed with migrants inside and clinging to the roof under an unyielding sun or monsoon rains. Making the trip even more daunting is the ongoing an indiscriminate war between the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels, which most recently resulted in the massacre of 14 in July in the state’s capital of Ciudad Victoria. Grupo Beta provides medical care, food and essentials for those in need and in transit.