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Kidnapped by a Cartel

Weeping and trembling from shock, three Nicaraguan migrants pleaded for help from CAM contacts distributing Bibles near the US-Mexico border. One of them stammered that they had been kidnapped by a cartel and had just managed to escape in the wee hours of that morning.

A few weeks prior, five teenagers left their homes in Nicaragua, sad to leave their homeland but eager for the possibilities that lay ahead in the United States. Traveling north, the migrants boarded a train taking them closer to the US-Mexico border. They’d arranged for a guide to pick them up at the end of their train ride and help them continue on their journey north. When the migrants got off at their final stop, they were greeted and welcomed by name. Their smiling host led them away from the train station.

As the migrants followed the men they had just met, an uneasy feeling formed. Their uneasiness turned to fear as they realized they’d been abducted by a Mexican cartel. But it was too late. They were kept in a room under constant watch. Cartel members demanded a ransom of $6,000 for each of the five teenagers’ release. The migrants called their families back in Nicaragua and explained the situation. Seeing no alternative, they reluctantly agreed and paid the money. But with the money in their hands, the cartel members responded that the price had changed. The families had to pay more before the captives would be released.

By now the hostages had been in captivity for over two weeks with little food or water and were growing weaker by the day. Desperate, they devised a plan to escape. Late one night their opportunity came. When no one was watching, they noiselessly removed the air conditioning unit from the wall and squirmed through the resulting hole. Outside in the darkness, they glanced around nervously then parted ways, three in one direction and two in another.

When the group of three approached CAM contacts the following morning, their only possessions were their ID cards and the clothes on their backs. The cartel had stripped them of their phones, money, and extra clothing. Knowing the cartel could be out looking for the migrants, CAM contacts took them to a safe place and provided them with food, clothing, and bedding.

Opportunities along the US-Mexico border

Christian workers along the US-Mexico border describe many opportunities like this to minister to migrants’ physical and spiritual needs. Most migrants leave their homes due to violence or economic instability. After weeks of traveling under threats of cartels, treacherous trails, and sometimes brutal weather conditions, they arrive at the border with little to no money or remaining resources. Many live in tents or empty buildings, awaiting legal entry into the United States.

Our contacts report a great hunger for spiritual truth among these waiting, vulnerable people. CAM supports conservative Anabaptist believers near the border who hold Bible studies and church services, share stories with children, and distribute Bibles and Christian literature.

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