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Coyote Operations & Marketing Investigative Study

Latin America and the Caribbean U.S. Embassy 2018 2019

In September 2018, the United States Embassy in Guatemala engaged DevTech Systems, Inc. to conduct a study of Guatemala’s illegal coyote industry in the context of migration to the United States of America. While there is a general understanding of the illegal migration phenomenon, there currently is only limited reliable information on the structure, operations, and marketing activities of those who conduct illegal migration assistance (human smuggling) activities. Findings focus on two research areas: coyote business structure and operations, and coyote marketing techniques. The evaluation team collected data through household and immigrant returnee surveys, media monitoring, “mystery client” research, in-depth interviews, expert interviews, and secondary literature research. The study has two objectives: Research Area 1: “Coyote Structure and Operations” – Review the literature and conduct surveys to develop profiles of individuals who provide illegal human smuggling services to Guatemalans wishing to travel to the U.S. without appropriate documentation. Specifically, the study contributes to answering the questions: (a) Who are the coyotes? (b) Where do they operate? (c) How do they operate? Research Area 2: “Coyote Marketing” – Identify the marketing techniques used by coyotes who aid illegal migration from Guatemala to the U.S. Data was collected in is six western highland municipalities in the three departments of San Marcos, Huehuetenango, and Quiché. These departments and municipalities were selected based on the high levels of poverty and the comparatively high percentage—relative to other Guatemalan locations—of populations who have recently attempted to cross, or succeeded in crossing, illegally into the United States.