Streets are silent, but smugglers still lurk - CBS 5 - KPHO

Streets are silent, but smugglers still lurk

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NOGALES, AZ (CBS5) -

The streets of Nogales, Sonora are nearly empty. An occasional car drives by. Every few minutes, a scout for a restaurant or bar approaches to try to lure us in for dinner, a drink or other entertainment.

This is not what Nogales looked and felt like just a couple of years ago, before the drug war made its way to this border city, and before the Americans stopped crossing for a taste of Latin America, with its curio shops, pharmacies and restaurants.

Tonight, we're not looking for a meal or Mexican beer. We're seeing how the downturn in the American and Mexican economies has affected one specific business - the human smuggling trade.

Within minutes of crossing the border, we ask a cab driver if he knows anyone who may be able to bring people across the border illegally. He told us that he could set us up with a coyote. He said they're also hurting for business these days.

Two blocks away, we are approached by one of those scouts described earlier.

"I can get you what you want," he said with a thick accent.

"We're looking for a smuggler, a coyote," we told him.

The scout said he knows someone who makes fake passports.

We asked if the passports look real. He said they're excellent and have a track record of working. He goes on to say they cost $1,000 each, and will take a week to produce.

We end the meeting with a handshake, agreeing that we may be back tomorrow to talk about it some more.

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