EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Migrant shelters in Juarez, Mexico, are stepping up security following Tuesday’s mass kidnapping attempt at a Protestant church-run facility.
Several armed men arrived in vehicles at the Tierra de Oro shelter in the Mexico 68 neighborhood shortly after 1 a.m. and knocked down a metal door with the back of a pickup. They took cellphones and money and lined up women and children separately from the men before apparently being scared off by a passing police car.
On Thursday, other facilities that host migrants requested police protection and took other preventive measures.
Workers at Good Samaritan near the Juarez mountains installed a new, taller courtyard gate.
“We have always taken precautions,” said the Rev. Juan Fierro, the shelter’s director. “One of the most important features here is we have closed-circuit security cameras (monitoring) the street – all movement and suspicious activity.”
Fierro brought in the cameras in 2019 after some of the Cuban migrants under his care reported being attacked by Juarez gang members. Border Report at the time interviewed a migrant who received stab wounds during a robbery and kidnapping attempt.
Fierro has also instituted a curfew and installed an electronic lock on the entrance. The new patio doors that open only to trucks bringing in supplies are meant to cut down on uninvited guests. “The gate is higher so that no one can jump. If someone is being chased on the street, they won’t be able to jump in and put us in danger,” he said.
Several shelters in Juarez have formed their own security details. Civilians in Mexico are not allowed to carry weapons, but guards can always raise an alarm, call police and urge the rest of the migrants to shelter in place.
“We generally keep the doors closed. All the people here have to tell us where they’re going. The doors open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. No one can be outside after that. We are practically (walled in),” Fierro said.
He said that the armed incursion at Tierra de Oro has raised red flags at shelters throughout the city. “It was a shocking event that could have happened not just to us, but to any person anywhere else here in Juarez,” he said, adding that it has been a long time since he has seen a police car drive by Good Samaritan to make sure everything is in order.
In a statement to Border Report, the Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office said it continues to investigate the attack on the Tierra de Oro shelter but no suspects have been arrested so far. The statement said threats were made against 15 migrants of various nationalities but did not specify the nature of the threats.
One migrant interviewed this week said the attackers were lining up male and female migrants separately to put them inside trucks before suddenly aborting the plan and leaving.
A Juarez newspaper on Thursday reported this is the sixth known armed incursion at a migrant shelter there in the past three years. On at least one occasion, the assailants threatened to shoot a migrant to death “so they see we are serious,” El Diario reported. On another occasion, members of a migrant smuggling group thought they were raiding the “safe house” of a rival organization and left the premises when they realized they were mistaken.
The New York City-based Human Rights First has documented crimes committed against 10,318 migrants in Mexico since February 2021.