OCTOBER 25, 2007
While increased security on the Mexican border has reduced the number of illegal crossers, it has also magnified violence among professional smugglers connected to drug cartels that often outgun U.S. Border Patrol agents.
Soon-to-be-released Homeland Security statistics reveal that the U.S. crackdown has indeed deterred Individuals from attempting to enter the country illegally, but it has also created a lucrative human smuggling enterprise operated by heavily armed drug cartels that charge up to $6,000 a person.
Essentially, smalltime smuggling operations have been replaced with sophisticated ones run by Mexicoâ??s notorious cocaine cartels. Smugglers now carry high-caliber weapons, use military tactics to evade capture and dress in camouflage uniforms. Often gunfights occur between rival smuggling gangs or gangs that hijack each otherâ??s human cargo as they make their way north.
A chief investigator for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona says the escalation in violence is one of the unintended consequences of sealing the border. Because the tougher security makes it harder for people to cross, smugglers are able to charge thousands and that has made human trafficking an attractive market for Mexicoâ??s drug cartels.
Border Patrol agents have actually seen a commingling of drugs and human cargo and they frequently capture migrants who pay for their trip by transporting drugs into the U.S. So, while less illegal immigrants are entering the country, this team effort has increased the amount of narcotics that make it in.
Nearly 2 million pounds of marijuana were seized along the U.S.-Mexico border in the last year, a huge increase from the previous year in which only 300,000 pounds were confiscated. Cocaine seizures also rose.
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