One coyote we spoke to exclusively, known as "El Bigotes", says the team makes up to $8,000 for each person they're able to smuggle into the country
MEXICALI, Baja California, Mexico - (KYMA, KECY) In Mexicali, the new border wall being built along the U.S. Mexico border is not stopping coyotes or other criminals from smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S., according to one coyote we spoke to exclusively.
The U.S. Mexico border in Mexicali is just one of the first parts of the border where the new wall is being put in place. The 30-foot-high fence is made up of bars filled with concrete, in an effort to make crossing illegally into the U.S. much more difficult. But it is still happening.
The coyote we spoke to, who goes by the alias "El Bigotes" or "Mustaches", is part of a network of human smugglers, referred to as coyotes, that cross illegal immigrants at the Mexicali - Calexico, Calif. border. He said he's an expert in cutting into the new border wall.
"Well yes, every time it gets more difficult but we have a tool that is able to cut into the fence. The bars are thick but if we try hard we can get it done in an hour," he said.
Cutting into the new border wall has proved to be the easiest way for these human smugglers to get these illegal immigrants into the U.S. They get paid up to $700 each time they are able to cut into the fence, split among three people.
"And if they don't detect the cut right away we can get up to 30 or 20 people [across] but easy we can get two or three people [across]," said "El Bigotes".
He also said that they cut into the border wall up to four times a day with several different tools, including high-duty drills. He also claims that although there is surveillance, they are able to reach an agreement with Mexican law enforcement, who turn the other way while these crimes are being committed.
The bite they are able to provide to these corrupt police officers is worth it, given the fact that each person that is crossed into the U.S. illegally earns these criminals close to $8,000.
"We charge $8,000, it's a chain. There are three cutters, then [those that] bring them up, then those that [help them] reach Los Angeles."
The coyotes already have a new strategy in place. They say they smuggle a decoy of sorts, meaning another person that border patrol can run after, and while that is happening they cross an illegal immigrant into the country.
These crossings are nothing new to the residents of Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. They have been witness to these new and innovative ways that these human smugglers have defied the new border wall, put in place by President Donald Trump.
During our reporting last Saturday one of our news crews ran into one of these set ups. A rope ladder hanging along the border wall on the Mexico side, just a couple blocks away from the Plaza Outlets across the border in Calexico.
Soon after we saw the ladder, Mexicali police arrived. Several firefighters were at the scene, and they brought down the ladder with a fire truck.
It took about five minutes for one firefighter to reach the top of the fence and undo the rope ladder. Firefighters say reaching those heights to undo these rope ladders can be difficult.
Mexicali police said they've arrested more than 30 people in the last four months, all allegedly caught either cutting into the border wall or using ladders to help people get over the fence.
Recently law enforcement in Mexicali met with U.S. Border Patrol to talk about enforcing the law along the border. Mexicali police say these criminals are also facing stiffer penalties.
El Centro Border Patrol said last year they spent $500,000 in repairs to the border wall, but they do say illegal crossings have gone down considerably since the new border wall was erected.
Still, if recent videos of human smugglers still crossing illegal immigrants across the new border wall are any indication, time will only tell if crossings continue to stay down or eventually get back up to the levels they were before President Trump took office. And as the new saying in Mexico now goes, the higher the fence, the longer the ladder.
Get an in-depth look into this story Wednesday, February 5 on CBS 13 at 10 p.m. with Alexandra Rangel.