Record numbers of migrants cross the Darien Gap

Briefly: Irregular migrant crossings through the Darien Gap, a lawless jungle region straddling Colombia and Panama, soared in April to 40,297. That’s a six-fold increase from last year, and way up from the 500 crossings in all of 2010.

Migrants with means can pay thousands for a coyote to help make the 100km journey. Otherwise, a drug cartel charges $400 just to enter the Gap, then folks risk getting lost in mountains, swept away in rivers, or being attacked by bandits.

It’s then a 4,000km journey across another half dozen countries to reach the US.

Intrigue’s take: Title 42, a US pandemic-era policy that deterred some migrants, will end tonight (Thursday). So the US, Colombia, and Panama launched a campaign last month to try and process migrants before they reach the Gap.

But April’s record migrant crossings suggest the campaign ain’t working.

The local cartel (The Demons) stands to make around $200M this year just from charging an entrance fee. So there’s a strong incentive to keep misleading folks both about the journey ahead plus US migration policy at the end of the line.

And that’s before we even look at why people are leaving home in the first place.

Also worth noting:

  • It’s called the Darien ‘Gap’ because it’s the only gap in the Pan-American Highway that stretches from Alaska to the southern tip of South America.
  • Venezuelans account for the majority of Darien Gap crossings, but migrants also hail from places like China, Angola, and Uzbekistan.