ICFJ Fellow Recognized for Uncovering New Human Smuggling Route

Aug 62013

Cindy Carcamo, a 2012 International Reporting Fellow, covered immigration for the Orange County Register. In her work, she spoke with patrol agents, farmers and those who attempted to cross the U.S./Mexico border. Occasionally, she wrote about developing trends in the way people attempted to make it to the U.S., but when she had the opportunity to delve deeper into an underreported story, she looked west, to the Pacific Ocean.

“I think it’s important to really know your beat, take a step back and think what may be happening that have international ties or implications,” Carcamo advised journalists in an online chat in February.

In her three-part series for the Orange County Register, she explained how men, women, even families resorted to these measures, teaming up with drug cartels to smuggle them on small shipping vessels, costing upward of $9,000 per passenger. As if the stories weren’t compelling enough, the series also included multimedia elements such as an introductory landing page, video interviews with sources and a photo gallery of her experience in Guerrero, Mexico.

The Orange County Press Club presented Carcamo with first place for the Best Public Affairs or Education story or series at the 2013 OC Press Club Journalism Awards. The OC Press Club Awards are presented to stories written in an OC-based publication or by OC-based writers.

In an interview in September 2012 with MediaBistro, Cindy spoke about her story, saying “We really wanted to get the humanity behind these events and statistics."

She added, “I spoke with various people to show why and how people are traveling the sea route. A lot of these people are completely unaware of how dangerous it is. At the end of the day, it’s a story of how the federal government has clamped down so much on the land border that it’s moved the flow to other places and benefited the drug cartels and smugglers. The harder it is to get in, the more money would-be immigrants have to pay.”