Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a group of Mexican nationals trying to fly over the drug cartel violence in the northern part of their country to get to stores in McAllen, Texas.
As the amount of gunfighting and unease continues to mount in Mexico and the accompanying southernmost border area of Texas, shoppers from Mexico with the money to do so are chartering 12-seat private planes to fly them into the Rio Grande Valley, Luis Cantu, vice president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce told Hair Balls.
Since the practice started about two months ago, Cantu said, sales are on the rise in McAllen which, like other Valley cities, has long depended on commerce with Mexico. And the number of planes offering the service from Monterrey and Tampico has expanded from one to three, he said.
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For the most part, what Mexicans are flying in to get is clothes, he said. "Clothing is very expensive in Mexico and the only way to get the variety is to come to the United States," Cantu said.
The people traveling this way are generally of the high middle or rich class and still a minority in terms of the overall number of shoppers crossing the border. The plane charters cost $4,200 per round trip which works out to $350 a person when all the seats are filled.
Other shoppers from Mexico concerned about their safety have taken to only coming and going in daylight hours, traveling together in a large car or a caravan of cars or even taking the bus, Cantu said.
"One of the trends we're seeing is that the buses which previously were used more often by lower income people now being used more and more by higher income people," Cantu said.