How drug cartels get unsuspecting civilians to bring drugs into the U.S.

Ignorant border residents are involved in smuggling contraband for transnational criminal groups that have operated despite border closings throughout the pandemic as the battle for routes leads to the slaughter of civilians in Mexico again.
Why it matters: The cartels smuggle drugs and even people through legal ports of entry, into hidden car compartments or commercial vehicles, unaffected by border walls or COVID-related closings. Now criminals are bleeding to control the corridor to at least one intersection.
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The latest: Last Saturday, 19 people were killed in a rare attack on civilians, four of whom were suspected cartel members and two women were abducted across the McAllen, Texas border in Reynosa. The victims include a 19-year-old nursing student, shopkeeper, and a bicycle mechanic.
Authorities blame two Gulf cartel splinter cells fighting over the area near the Pharr, Texas bridge.
It is the seventh largest port in the United States and the fourth largest on the border with Mexico, the United States' largest trading partner.
Control of the corridor to the intersection allows cartels to ship drugs such as cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and meth to U.S. buyers in South Texas and beyond.
Map: Danielle Alberti / Axios
Between the lines: The outbreak of violence comes as both governments have advanced discussions about when and how the border can be safely reopened.
The closure of "minor" movements due to the pandemic has hit businesses that rely on customers from both sides of the border. The closure was only extended until at least July 21st.
Important trips, such as the crossing to school or doctor visits or the homeward journey of US citizens or permanent residents, will continue.
One of the myriad ways cartels keep their businesses going is to use some of these people as "blind mules".
This is how it works: Criminal organizations advertise alleged courier jobs on Facebook and look for people with cars who can still pass through the ports of entry.
The ads claim the job is legally transferring money between bureaux de change, according to ICE's Homeland Investigations division.
The cartels require an "interview" with "job" candidates in places like Ciudad Juárez, and while they are talking, the contraband is hidden in the distracted person's car.
The goods are picked up on the other side when the ignorant mule crosses unnoticed.
Regarding perspective: Despite the pandemic, violence in Mexico has not decreased, especially in the areas disputed by cartels, both near the border and in southeastern Mexico. Homicides continue their trend towards all-time highs.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has announced a federal investigation into Saturday's attack.
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