The Devil's Highway Characters
by Luis Alberto Urrea

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The Devil's Highway Characters

The main characters in The Devil's Highway are Reymundo Barreda, Daniel Cercas, Don Moi Garcia, El Negro, Mendez, and Rita Vargas.

  • Reymundo Barreda is a hard-working man, he decides to go north with his son.

  • Daniel Cercas goes by the alias “El Chespiro.” He recruits the polleros and the guias for the transport of the walkers.

  • Don Moi García is a recruiter for the northern Coyotes.

  • El Negro works for the Cercas family as a Coyote.

  • Mendez is a guide for the Wellton 26. He works at a brickyard and lives with his girlfriend.

  • Rita Vargas investigates the captures of undocumented immigrants and border deaths.

Characters

Reymundo Barreda

Reymundo is a mestizo who has an indigenous heritage on his mother’s side. A strong, mature, hard-working man, Reymundo decides to go north so that he can earn money to expand and reroof his house as a gift for his wife. With the larger group of walkers, Reymundo embarks northward to cross the border and spend the summer orange-picking in Florida. He is the oldest of the group at fifty-six.

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Reymundo also has a fifteen-year-old son, Reymundo Jr., who is a strong student at the regional school and a star in the soccer league. Reymundo Jr. decides to go north with his father as a gesture of loyalty and love. Even as Reymundo loses hope on the trail, he endures in the hopes of saving his son. In perhaps the most tragic moment of the narrative, Reymundo Jr. dies in Reymundo’s arms, not long before Reymundo himself perishes.

El Chespiro (Daniel Cercas)

Daniel “El Chespiro” Cercas is the brother of Luis Cercas, who leads the human trafficking crime family in Phoenix, Arizona. El Chespiro takes his nickname from the Mexican television series El Chapulín Colorado—“The Red Grasshopper”—a satirical superhero show starring Roberto Gómez Bolaños, an actor nicknamed “El Chespirito,” which means “the Little Shakespeare.” El Chespiro never meets with the lower-level guides in the gang face-to-face. He remains at his base in Hidalgo, Mexico, only keeping in contact via cell phone. His remoteness from the actual trafficking operations lends him an enigmatic and intimidating air. All of the payments cycle through El Chespiro and the payouts also move from him to the guides. El Chespiro sends people to Sonoita from all over Mexico and oversees El Negro and El Moreno.

Don Moi García

Don Moi García is a recruiter for the northern Coyotes who takes order from El Chespiro. He works in the state of Veracruz to find men and women who want to cross the border. In the eyes of the poor individuals hoping to cross the border for greater opportunity, Garcíae is a walking example of success and the good life. He drives a big American car, eats well, and has a strong and solid physique—attributes that stand in stark contrast to the thin men who seek more food and a better life. He is said to be yet another relative of the Cercas family that controls the trafficking from Phoenix. García is the recruiter who gathers the Wellton 26 and, in a gesture of corruption and greed, extracts exorbitant fees from them. García is a ruthless businessman who views his clientele as little more than poor, desperate people waiting to be exploited.

El Negro

El Negro works for the Cercas family. He is a notorious Coyote and is about twenty-eight years old. He is a dreaded enforcer and manipulator based in Sonoita, Arizona. He represents a mature Coyote within the Cercas family gang. He works his way up to the status of Coyote from an early life as a guide. He works and lives with with a driver called El Moreno. 

El Negro and El Moreno oversee a small army of drivers, guards, enforcers, and guides. Working remotely, they stay in contact with El Chespiro via cell phone. Like other smugglers, El Negro pays locals to cover up his organization’s operations. He and the other Cercas gang members pay people, such as the local Indians, to hide their pick-up trucks and other items. They also take care of the garbage and...

(The entire section is 1,670 words.)