US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Archived Content

In an effort to keep current, the archive contains content from a previous administration or is otherwise outdated.

Mother of Girl Shot by Smugglers Shares Testimonial

Release Date: 
October 18, 2016

Smuggler’s Bullet Hits 4-Year-Old Girl During Train Ambush

WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a Spanish language testimonial video of a Salvadorian mother whose 4-year-old-daughter was shot by smugglers during a robbery as they were riding a train through Mexico to the United States.

“The train stopped and a few men boarded the train, the men then told us to get off the train.  When the men saw us move… he fired his gun.  We all screamed. After that my little girl said - Mom, my arm hurts,” explains the young woman who, after touching her daughter’s body, noticed the little girl was bleeding.

“We were begging the men for help. The men responded – No, we can’t help you. I had so much fear that my daughter would die.” Terrified, she picked up her little girl and got back onto the train. The train conductor arrived shortly after the robbers fled and took the mother and child to a local hospital for treatment.

“They gave her oxygen. When the doctors told me the bullet hit her kidney, I didn’t have any strength in me… because… seeing her laying helpless with machines attached to her.  And to think all of this because I wanted to find something better.” 

Upon leaving the hospital, smugglers took the mother and daughter to a stash house in Mexico. According to the mother, the conditions in the house were deplorable. The house was crammed with people, many of them being young children.

As her child was suffering from the gunshot wound, no medical assistance was available to her. There were no antibiotics, no sterile dressings, no pain medication and no sympathy from those she trusted to bring her and her daughter to the United States. 

“The innocent and fragile life of a little 4-year-old girl was meaningless compared to the brutality and greed of human smugglers. This heart-wrenching story is a concerning reminder of the atrocities migrants endure on their journey, and how in the obscure tunnel of human smuggling, money rules over humanity,” says Jaime Ruiz CBP Testimonials national spokesperson.

The young woman and the child were rescued by the U.S. Border Patrol as they crossed into the United States. She voluntarily offered her testimony to inform other mothers about the realities of the journey.

In coordination with U.S. Department of State (DOS), the new video is part of a Public Service Announcement (PSA) Testimonial series launched on May 31, Teenage Testimonial Released on August 8  and Medical Examiner Testimonial on August 23. It is a continuation of several long ranging Spanish language public awareness campaigns CBP has launched over the last decade.

The video was produced by Joint Task Force West (JTF-W) South Texas Corridor, Rio Grande Valley Sector. JTF-W is an innovative U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) interagency integrated model that unifies all DHS border security components in the Southwest Border.

In addition to being distributed to key Spanish language news media in the United States, the testimonials are released in Central America via U.S. embassies in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The PSA testimonial series is an interagency effort to raise awareness of the atrocities, abuses, extortion and natural hazards migrants encounter in their journey.



  • Medical Examiner Testimonial Released on August 23
  • Teenage Testimonial Released on August 8
  • Testimonial Series launched on May 31
Last modified: 
February 3, 2021