Posted on April 24, 2019

Central American Migrants Paid Human Smugglers $2.3B in 2017, Says Report

Bob Price, RAND Corporation, April 22, 2019

A RAND Corporation report released Monday reveals that Central American migrants paid human smugglers more than $2 billion in 2017 to get them into the United States.

RAND Corporation’s Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center reveals Central American migrants paid human smugglers, including transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) up to about $2.5 billion in smuggling fees and “taxes” in 2017.


The authors of the RAND report developed “a preliminary estimate of revenues from human smuggling flowing to all types of smugglers, not just TCOs — ranging from about $200 million to $2.3 billion in 2017.” The “range in uncertainty stemming largely from analytical challenges related to data limitations and time constraints.”

The authors also looked at “taxes,” or “pisos” paid by migrants to drug-trafficking TCOs as they pass through their cartel-controlled smuggling routes. Those “taxes” range from $30 million to $180 million, the report stated.


During an interview on Breitbart News Tonight, Darby called out a specific faction of the Gulf Cartel for its domination of the human trafficking market from Mexico into South Texas.

“In the Rio Grande Valley Sector of Texas,” Darby explained. “There is one cartel who operates in that sector — the Gulf Cartel. There are multiple factions of the Gulf Cartel which, on their own are transnational criminal organizations. In this particular area that we are talking about … that is one particular faction of the Gulf Cartel. It is the Reynosa faction.”

“It is the worst faction of the Gulf Cartel and it is the faction of the Gulf Cartel and the only faction of any Mexican cartel that makes as much or more money from smuggling potential asylees to the border and other people who want to enter illegally. They make as much or more from illegal immigration as they do from narcotics.”

The RAND report confirms this stating that the estimated $2.3 billion paid to human smugglers is in the “same order of magnitude” as earlier RAND reports estimating the revenues of drug traffickers.

One report based on a survey carried out by a Mexican online magazine shows how the smuggling fee, estimated to be an average of up to $10,000 per person in 2017, were divided up along a typical trip from Honduras. {snip}


The complete report cites numerous examples of human smuggling fees and how they break down into payments at various points along the smuggling route.

[Editor’s Note: The complete RAND report is available at no charge here.]