SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico -- Law enforcement officials tell ABC-7 that a new trend is emerging by smugglers to transport undocumented migrants around the Borderland, and it involves ordering the use of ride-sharing services.
Sunland Park Police Chief Javier Guerra said his department, along with the U.S. Border Patrol, have noticed that ride-share drivers are unwittingly being utilized in some cases to help migrants coming across the border from Juarez travel to destinations here in the U.S.
One driver who contacted ABC-7 about the problem said he's recently had rides booked in Sunland Park for pickups along the U.S.-Mexico border near Anapra and Mount Cristo Rey.
ABC-7 is not identifying the driver or his employer because he fears he will lose his job.
In one instance, the driver said the migrants used his service for a ride to a shelter that cares for undocumented immigrants. He said the three men who jumped into his vehicle near the pickup spot all had wet pants and muddy shoes, which made him suspicious.
The driver said he reached out to ABC-7 because he wanted to draw awareness to the situation. He also said he reported the incidents to his ride-share employer asking them not to pair him with that customer. But it happened again on Friday. When he arrived at the pickup spot, he said federal agents in plain clothes briefly detained him to ask questions.
“I don’t want to get arrested, this is my livelihood," the driver explained. "I do this full time and I don’t want to get my car taken away or even go to jail because I'm picking up illegal migrants that are just crossing the border.”
A spokeswoman for the ride-share company that employs this particular driver said drivers can cancel a trip anytime if they feel unsafe. She also said the firm provides human trafficking education to its drivers.