October 15, 2011
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Mexico's National Institute for Migration (INM) is responsible for processing and keeping tabs on tens of thousands of tourists, visitors, immigrants and undocumented persons who pass through the country every year, including many from war torn areas in Central America, where drug traffickers are locked in vicious conflict with civil authorities.
From time to time allegations surface that some INM personnel are on the payrolls of drug cartels, or are taking bribes, or are tolerating the abuse of poor migrants passing through the country on their way to the U.S. In recent months there have been several highly publicized cases of migrants who were kidnapped by traffickers and extorted for cash, or pressed into service as "drug mules" for the cartels, and forced to carry narcotics across the border. Hundreds of those migrants were later executed and buried in remote graves. Their remains are still being discovered. Here in Merida, in 2009, a high ranking INM official was fired after he was linked to a local prostitution ring which smuggled in women from neighboring countries, including Cuba. His job was to get them falsified visas and work documents. He narrowly escaped criminal prosecution, but was barred from government employment for 15 years.
Today (Oct. 14) INM announced the summary firing of 121 of its employees, in the states of Chiapas, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Quintana Roo, Veracruz and the Federal District, all of which have heavy migrant or transient populations. The government said they were suspected of corruption or ties to organized crime, but gave no other details.