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Drug cartels use social media to recruit American teenagers to smuggle illegal aliens; police call it 'Uber for the cartels'
Image Source: CBS Mornings YouTube video screenshot composite

Drug cartels use social media to recruit American teenagers to smuggle illegal aliens; police call it 'Uber for the cartels'

Police in Arizona are sounding the alarm about deaths and arrests from human traffickers who are often identified as teenagers recruited by drug cartels on social media.

CBS News followed along with deputies from the sheriff's office in Cochise County, Arizona, where there have been hundreds of arrests and at least 20 deaths related to human trafficking.

“We have over a hundred juveniles in the last 18 months that we’ve apprehended in this county smuggling, all the way to the age of 13 and 12 years of age down here, driving grandma’s car, a friend’s car, or mom and dad’s car down here, and it’s social media,” said County Sheriff Mark Dannels.

More than 400 people have been arrested since Arizona passed a new law focusing on human trafficking last year, and of those, a majority are American citizens from other counties, said Dannels.

Some of those are teenagers who have been recruited by drug cartels over posts on social media platforms like TikTok promising lots of money in exchange for people willing to drive migrants from the border.

CBS News filmed as 18-year-old Gerardo alarcon-Martin admitted to a police officer that he had become a smuggler after seeing an advertisement promising money on social media. He was from North Carolina but was arrested in Arizona in June after leading police on a long car chase.

"Was it an advertisement?" asked the police officer.

"It was like an advertisement, yeah," he responds.

"What was that advertisement like?" the officer asks.

"It was just showing money," he responds.

Alarcon-Martin pleaded guilty to providing assistance to a human smuggling operation. CBS News obtained police body cam video showing him being arrested in the desert.

“It is 100% Uber for the cartels,” said Deputy Chris Oletsky.

Other incidents have turned deadly. In 2021, a 16-year-old who was suspected to be a smuggler crashed into another car and killed a 65-year-old woman who was driving to attend her birthday dinner.

CBS News was also filming when Oletsky was injured while tossing a spike strip in front of a speeding car in order to aid in the arrest of 47-year-old Bernadette Fuaga. Police say six suspected illegal aliens ran from the scene, and she was charged with smuggling and driving under the influence.

Dannels is frustrated that no one in the federal government appears to want to do anything to ease the crisis.

“It pisses me off because we’ve been talking about this for almost three years. I’ve testified in front of Congress. I’ve met with anybody that’ll listen to us and every day that goes by I see another tragedy,” he added.

Here's a report on the human trafficking crisis:

Rampant cartel and human smuggling in rural Arizona county lead to dangerous police pursuitswww.youtube.com

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Carlos Garcia

Carlos Garcia

Staff Writer

Carlos Garcia is a staff writer for Blaze News.