DHS Report Shows Human Traffickers Rake in Billions Bringing Migrants to the US From Central America

Henry Romero/File Photo/Reuters

A report funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) found that human traffickers taking migrants from Central America to the United States are raking in billions.

As IJR previously reported, Border Patrol has apprehended more than 614,000 migrants in the current financial year. Many of these migrants were found to be crossing the border in large groups, with some of the groups containing more than 1,000 people.

One reason migrants are arriving in large groups is that the migrants are traveling with human traffickers. This prompted DHS to fund a study from the Rand Corporation into the process used by these smugglers.

The Rand Corporation found that smugglers range from individuals to large transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), like the cartel. While the smugglers are predominately small operations, the report notes that large TCOs have “taxes” they levy on the migrants to allow them to safely travel through cartel-controlled territories. The report estimates that TCOs make as much as $30 million to $180 million off these “taxes” on migrants passing through their territory.

While most of the smuggling operations are small, that doesn’t mean they aren’t making big money.

The report found that human traffickers brought in anywhere from $200 million to $2.3 billion in 2017 alone. That number could be much higher in recent years, as record-breaking flows of migrants continue to pour into the United States.

Although the report found that most migrants themselves are not smuggling any illicit materials, the cartels are using the distraction of massive migrant groups to “divert attention” of Border Patrol agents to push their drug supply into the U.S.

The Rand Corporation suggested that the best way to stop smugglers is to target their revenues by clamping down on banks used by these operations. They also suggest that Border Patrol agents ask more of migrants when they arrive in the U.S. to get more details about the routes being utilized by the traffickers.

While this report gave suggestions on how to specifically target human traffickers, some Republicans believe the best way to shut down human traffickers is to limit the incentive for people to travel to the United States in the first place.

As IJR previously reported, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has a plan to fix the asylum laws in the U.S. to disincentivize migrants from traveling north, including an asylum application that can be completed in their home country.

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Can we say “cartels”?





Gavin Newsom

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