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Mexican cartels offer VIP smuggling packages to illegal aliens — $6,000 to $15,000 per person
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Mexican cartels offer VIP smuggling packages to illegal aliens — $6,000 to $15,000 per person

Juárez-based cartel smuggles at least 1,000 illegal immigrants every month.

Mexican cartels are offering VIP smuggling packages to foreign nationals seeking to cross into the United States illegally, USA Today recently reported.

Sources told the news outlet that the cartels are charging anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000 per person to smuggle individuals through a network of underground drainage tunnels that stretch from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas.

'Now 60 to 70% of their focus is migrant smuggling.'

The cartels' customers are given a code word that identifies which criminal organization they are traveling with to signal to local law enforcement and rival cartels not to harass the group.

La Linea, a cartel based in Juárez, has been smuggling at least 1,000 illegal aliens across the U.S. border through the tunnel system every month, a senior Mexican official told USA Today.

Arturo Velasco, head of the anti-kidnapping unit at the Chihuahua attorney general's office, told the news outlet, "Criminals have shifted from their primary business, which was drug trafficking."

"Now 60 to 70% of their focus is migrant smuggling," Velasco said. "A kilo of cocaine might bring in $1,500, but the risk is very high. The cost-benefit of trafficking a person is $10,000, $12,000, $15,000."

Ines Barrios de la O, an immigration specialist at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, stated, "Remittances in cities like Ciudad Juárez have doubled to nearly $90 million per trimester so far in 2024."

Oscar Hagelsieb, former assistant special agent in charge at the United States Homeland Security Investigations, told USA Today, "Corruption in Juárez, or in any other Mexican border city, must be in collusion with authorities."

Velasco added, "We know of federal law enforcement that traffic migrants. ... From inside shelters, they, along with officials from the National Institute of Migration, send information on people and then, outside, these people are abducted by criminal groups."

According to Velasco, some police officers kidnap migrants and hold them in safe houses until they can pay their smuggling dues to the cartel.

One smuggler told USA Today that law enforcement authorities also navigate the illegal aliens to the tunnels' entrances. He also claimed that for nearly $600 per person, officers provide cover for smugglers while they move the illegal immigrants into El Paso.

Art Del Cueto, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, told NewsNation that the cartels' smuggling humans through the drainage system is "not something that's new."

"They use different types of social media. They have intel within the United States. They obviously have intel along the border," Del Cueto stated. "They charge different groups and families depending on the safest route or the easier one."

He explained that the smugglers are "willing to sacrifice" groups of illegal aliens who have paid less to create a diversion for those who have paid them more to get into the U.S.

"They'll get a group. They're separate them and say, 'Look, if you come across just turn yourself in. They're not going to send you back. Ask for asylum. You're going to get a free pass.' That allows these cartels to be able to pass other individuals through other areas," Del Cueto told NewsNation.

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →