Posted on June 12, 2019

Study: Smugglers Earned as Much as $2.3 Billion Helping Migrants Cross Border in 2017

Mairead McArdle, National Review, June 10, 2019

Smugglers pulled in anywhere from $200 million to $2.3 billion in 2017 in payments from migrants they helped enter the country illegally, according to a new study commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security.

Migrants pay from just under $4000 to over $11,000 each in smuggling fees, depending on the amount of help they request and whether it includes transit all the way from their home country and actual passage across the U.S. border, according to the study, Human Smuggling and Associated Revenues, produced by the Rand Corporation for DHS. “The wide range reflects uncertainty about the number of migrants that travel northward, their use of smugglers and the fees they pay,” the report said.

Meanwhile, drug lords charge traffickers another $30 million to $180 million annually to use their routes.

{snip} Smugglers have also started offering packages “that reduce exposure to risks and do not require extensive physical activity, such as scaling walls or extended hikes through remote terrain,” catering to those for whom the journey is more difficult, such as pregnant women, seniors, and minors.

Transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) play a role in smuggling migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, but smaller criminal operators and looser networks also exist in the market, the study found.