Members of the Border Patrol are reporting an alarming trend they’ve noticed recently regarding human smuggling at the border. The embattled law enforcement agency says that Transnational Criminal Organizations are utilized social media to recruit teens to assist them in smuggling not only illegal immigrants across the southern border, but also drugs and other illicit cargo into the United States.
The Customs and Border Patrol, or CBP, released a statement earlier this week. In this release, the agency noted that, particularly in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, agents have encountered more than 137,000 migrants between October 2021 and December 2021. This is a 163 percent increase from the same time period in 2020. In addition, narcotics are becoming a bigger issue as well. Seizures of illegal drugs at the border have increased by 47 percent.
Because of the number of migrants and illicit substances coming across the border, drug cartels are beginning to utilize various social media apps to recruit assistance in smuggling.
The CBP release said: “TCOs are luring minors to smuggle migrants across border towns into the Rio Grande Valley and into the U.S. interior with the promise of fast cash. (They) convince juvenile drivers that they will not face the same consequences as adults (who assist in smuggling both people and drugs) if apprehended or that law enforcement will disengage a pursuit if dangerous conditions are present.”
Border Patrol agents say that they are seeing an uptick in “erratic” driving by inexperienced individuals. These drivers are typically seen speeding and even driving into oncoming traffic.
Border Patrol agents have arrested drivers – including some as young as thirteen – in San Antonio and Houston; there are additional arrests in other cities as well. In fiscal 2022, Border Patrol agents shared data showing they had engaged in nearly 100 pursuits of drivers carrying migrants. In fiscal year 2021, CBP says there were 257 chases of such vehicles.
Last year, Fox News reported that cartels were utilizing social media apps such as Tiktok as well as others to enlist teens to assist in their smuggling endeavors by offering over $3,000 per ride to those who would take the offer. Some of the tactics include using ads stating that they need “two or three drivers to go through (border) checkpoints.” Another ad enticed willing individuals to “lemme know ASAP for that easy cash.”
Teens and adult drivers who take the cartels up on the offers must get vehicles through a checkpoint, then, the drivers drop the migrants off in locations such as parking lots. From there, members of the cartel will then take the migrants to a “stash house,” several of which are located at various points across the border.