Guards, who dress all in black and wear masks, are supposed to protect the trains and their passengers, but many migrants and advocates report that custodios are preying on migrants.
It’s estimated that about four hundred thousand Central American migrants enter Mexico each year. The overwhelming majority plan to enter the United States. Most come from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—three countries with extremely high poverty rates (53 percent of Guatemalans, 41 percent of Salvadorans, and 67 percent of Hondurans are poor). But as bad as the poverty is, it’s the violence that’s driving people out. Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate, El Salvador the fourth highest, and Guatemala the fifth. Much of the violence in all three countries is perpetrated by gangs like the Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha—the most vicious gangs in the Americas.