Human smugglers are devising increasingly sophisticated and expensive methods of moving migrants across the border, as Animal Politico reports.
According to one migrant who has crossed the border several times over the last 20 years, smugglers now offer a range of services priced between $3,000 to $20,000.
For a lower price, smugglers agree to help migrants jump the border fence, then walk through the US southwestern desert to safety. Those who pay more are promised original legal documents and the aid of corrupt Border Patrol agents. Other smuggling methods involve moving people by boat and small aircraft. In such cases, drugs shipments are typically smuggled at the same time, the migrant told Animal Politico.
InSight Crime Analysis
It is unsurprising that heightened security along the US-Mexico border has allowed human smugglers to justify the high price of their services. The Obama administration has deployed record numbers of Border Patrol agents to the southwest frontier, as part of an effort to reinforce border security measures initiated under the previous government.
As crossing the border becomes a more complex and expensive endeavor, it is likely to further attract the attentions of organized crime groups. Many groups already play a role in the human smuggling trade, and this only looks set to increase.
Criminal organizations like the Zetas are known to charge human smugglers a tax in exchange for permission to move people through their territory. Criminal groups are also known to target migrants when moving from Central America through Mexico. In an interview with the AP earlier this year, one migrant said that criminal gangs were considered the real threat during the journey, not immigration enforcement bodies like the Border Patrol.