CARRIZO SPRINGS, Texas (TND) — Cartels and "coyotes" are reportedly earning around $13 billion a year by smuggling migrants across the United States/Mexico border, an amount that has soared from the 2018 number of just $500 million.
The information comes from a report by New York Times National Immigration Correspondent Miriam Jordan, who suggests that $13 billion in revenue doesn't even include drug money.
Migrant smuggling on the U.S. southern border has evolved over the past 10 years from a scattered network of freelance “coyotes” into a multi-billion-dollar international business controlled by organized crime, including some of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels," the NYT reports.
The New York Times reports that, for years, people smuggling migrants across the border (known colloquially as "coyotes") have been paying cartels for permission to cross their territory along the border.
However, as smuggling became more profitable around 2019, cartels decided to get into the game themselves, according to Acting Deputy Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Patrick Lechleitner, who detailed the information while speaking to Congress last year.
The enterprises have teams specializing in logistics, transportation, surveillance, stash houses and accounting — all supporting an industry whose revenues have soared to an estimated $13 billion today from $500 million in 2018, according to Homeland Security Investigations, the federal agency that investigates such cases," the NYT reports.
More than 5,046 people have been arrested and charged with human smuggling over the past year. That number is reportedly up from 2,762 in 2014.
Some of those smuggling attempts have turned deadly, while others resulted in the cartel kidnapping and exploiting migrants for ransom from family members. The deadliest attempt at smuggling to date occurred after coyotes tried to pack over 50 migrants into the back of a semi-truck with no airflow. Fifty-three of those migrants were later found dead in that truck outside San Antonio. Two men have been arrested and charged with their deaths.
Speaking with the New York Times, a family member of two of the migrants who died in that truck said they had taken out loans to pay the $10,000 per person fee to smuggle them into America. The Times adds that smuggling fees can range from $2,000 to $40,000.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently said called the border "securer," adding authorities are working to "make the border more secure." It's a claim critics are calling a "lie."
Border counties in Texas have previously claimed to be overrun with a large influx of migrants, with some going as far as to call it an "invasion."