Missouri's Illegal Immigrants Forced to Traffic Meth
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Missouri is now home to large numbers of Central American immigrants who have been coerced into trafficking Mexican methamphetamine, USA Today reports. After paying a fee to cross the border, immigrants from Mexico, Honduras and other parts of Central America come to the US under the impression that they will land decent jobs and make enough to improve the lives of their families back home. But the reality is far more grim. Facing unemployment or low wage jobs, in addition to massive debts owed to the organization that got them across the border, many have become reluctant participants in the trafficking of Mexican methamphetamine. Their illegal status makes them especially vulnerable, since they are unlikely to report the illicit activity to police. “Most of these migrant workers are truly looking for a better way of life—money for their families,” says Jerry Craig, a supervisor in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s office in Springfield, Mo. “These organizations capitalize on their vulnerabilities.” Federal court documents filed last December have named Juan Moreno-Malagon as a leader in a major drug organization that smuggled meth into the Springfield area since at least September 2010. Court records say that Moreno-Malagon had “extensive connections to individuals experienced in helping people illegally cross the US-Mexican border."