Criminal organizations trafficking migrants over the U.S.-Mexico border likely earned more than $14 million per day during the month of February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection sources indicated to Fox News.
The news comes as many feared the ongoing crisis at the souther border would result in a business boom for bad actors, such as dangerous organized crime units looking to take advantage of the unprecedented numbers of migrants hoping to enter the U.S. in anticipation of lenient treatment from the Biden administration.
What are the details?
Agency officials reportedly shared estimates with the news outlet indicating that smuggling revenues last month totaled $411.5 million, or a daily average of $14.6 million. An estimated $34.1 million was made off of Central American children, $80.7 million off of Central American families, $139.5 million off of Central American single adults, and $157.2 million off of Mexicans.
"Trafficking is a multibillion-dollar industry," former Tucson Border Patrol Chief Roy Villareal told Fox News.
"A lot of these vulnerable populations use their life savings. Some are essentially indentured servants and they're working off this debt for a long period of time. In other cases, some of these migrants are asked to transport narcotics or some form of crime to work off a different part of their debt," added Villareal, who served in the agency for 30 years before retiring in December.
Fox News noted in its report that migrants often pay a portion of the smuggling fees upfront and then the remainder of the fees are paid over time by the individual, their family, or perhaps their employer. In exchange for the money, smuggling organizations usually provide transportation to the border as well as food, shelter, and a guide to get across.
"In some cases, the fees also cover transportation to a place of employment where the worker is expected to remain for years," the report added.
Earlier this month, news broke that some officials within Mexico's government were concerned that "migrant president" Joe Biden was creating business for gangs and cartels with his administration's open borders messaging.
Similarly, Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas), who represents a district near the southern border, warned that bad actors would take advantage of the worsening situation, saying, "The bad guys know how to market this."
Only days later, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott relayed a message given to him by Border Patrol agents: Cartels and other criminal organizations were indeed getting rich off of the crisis.
The Fox News report lends even further credence to the fears that have been expressed.