Source: InSight Crime
Federal and local authorities in Arizona are sounding the alarm about a rise in the use of outsiders as drivers for human smuggling operations, a practice they say has led to some spectacular and tragic consequences for its participants, migrants, and bystanders.
Members of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the investigative division of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona told InSight Crime that smuggling groups are recruiting people, many of them teenagers, via social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram to drive to border areas and pick up undocumented migrants.
From there, the drivers get instructions on where to take the migrants, which is usually a safehouse or another pick up point. Payment to drivers varies. HSI investigators said it hovers around $500 per person. But the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office put it at closer to $2,500 per person, which coincides with a recent human smuggling operation dismantled in southern Texas, where federal prosecutors said drivers were paid as much as $2,500. The money is paid in cash on delivery, via Bitcoin ATMs, or money-transfer applications, authorities said.