JUAREZ, Mexico (NewsNation Now) — When you cross over the wall in between U.S.-Mexico border cities El Paso, Texas to Juarez, Mexico, you go from one of the safest cities in America to one of the most dangerous in the world.
A busload of 27 asylum-seekers crossed the Mexico border into Brownsville, Texas, Thursday. Some of the refugees from Central America have been living in shelters in Mexico for years, waiting for their chance to enter America.
“It’s amazing to see after so long…to see them suffer, for them to be here now,” Sister Norma Pimentel with Catholic Charities said as the migrants arrived in Brownsville.
The migrants have been waiting in border cities, like Juarez, Mexico, one of the most dangerous cities in the world–largely controlled by cartels.
“The cartels own the whole trip from their countries to a city like Juarez, so they are always in danger. I guess they are in danger because they are completely in the hands of the cartel. If the cartel wants to kill them or kidnap or rob them, they totally can, and no one is going to do anything about that,” Mexico journalist Luis Chaparro said.
Chaparro has been covering cartels in Juarez for over a decade. He says there are roughly eight murders a day on the streets.
“They investigate roughly nine percent of the murders—less than 10%. Imagine having 8 murders a day and not having enough agents in a city like this. Eight murders a day makes 80 murders in 10 days,” Chaparro said.
Chaparro says most of the murders are cartel related.
64-year-old Jose Camacho, who lives in Juarez, says he was involved in the cartel until several years ago.
“In prison I met some of them and they knew what I did because in prison I was affiliated,” Camacho said.
Camacho said he was in the U.S. Army from 1974 until 1980.
He was in prison several times on drug charges, and because he only had a green card, he was deported to Mexico. Because of his affiliations in prison, he says he then began working for the cartel.
“Once I got here, I had to repay the favor. So they took me to Chihuahua to train some of the people. Small arms. Demolition. Clearing a house. To enter. To exit. To avoid detection,” Camacho said.
Camacho is now in bad health and has heart and lung problems and was told he doesn’t have long to live.
“I don’t want to die in Juarez. I would rather die in custody over there than in Juarez,” Camacho said.
Camacho went to the border hoping to get arrested and put into a detention center in the U.S. and hoped that the medical treatment in prison would be better than in Juarez.
NewsNation rode with him to the border.
Instead he was detained, and released back into Mexico.