Mario Santos likely never made it to the United States.
The 18-year-old set out 10 years ago from his native El Salvador in search of opportunity and a better way of life. But he had to travel north through Mexico first.
A short while after leaving, he called his parents to tell them he had been beaten and robbed in Mexico, left penniless and without shoes or clothes. It was the last they heard from him.
It's a fate that likely befell 72 people believed to be migrants from Central and South America whose bodies were found this week in a ranch in northern Mexico, just 90 miles from the U.S. border. It's a fate that officials say also befalls thousands of Central and South Americans every year.
"It's brutal," says Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue, a non-partisan Washington policy institute. "This is very big business. It's very brutal."
It is indeed big b
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