The Village Voice goes inside the brutal world of America’s most dangerous city for kidnapping: Phoenix, AZ.
Phoenix is labeled the kidnapping capital of the United States because of people- and drug-smuggling out of Mexico. It’s a catchphrase that politicians like U.S. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona use to alarm voters into buying the get-tough-on-illegals policies they’re selling. But it’s the smuggled immigrants—not the general public—who overwhelmingly are the primary victims.
In 2008, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available, there were 368 reported kidnappings in Phoenix, up from 160 in 1999. Almost all of the abductions were inside the smuggling world. In 2008, IIMPACT detectives worked 63 kidnapping cases, investigated 49 drop houses, and arrested 129 human smugglers.
In the absence of federal immigration reform, experts believe that immigrants will continue to risk their lives and rely on coyotes as they search for better lives in this country. And it doesn’t seem likely that a fix will come soon.
The immigration issue is more complex than anyone, on either side of the political divide, will admit to.