The world’s leading social network isn’t just for connecting with your friends and family anymore — users in Central America seeking to cross into the U.S. illegally can now add smugglers and co-conspirators to the list.
“Coyotes,” as they’re often called, are now using Facebook to connect with potential clients online, according to Reuters, and those interested in making the journey have begun crowdsourcing information from the network to find smugglers and ideal crossing locations. (RELATED: New Polls: Obama Losing, GOP Gaining, On Immigration)
Social media itself is feeding the increase in illegal crossing attempts, according to U.S. officials. Those who complete the crossing can now connect with their friends and family back home online, and let them know of their success and offer advice for making it through. (RELATED: Doctor Says Illegal Immigration’s Causing ‘Public Health Crisis’)
“Social media now enables families and young people to learn from those in the U.S. that ‘this coyote delivers … I went, and I’m up here. The guy around the corner, he’s the one who got me here,’” an unnamed U.S. official in Washington said in the report.
One high-tech smuggler reported using smartphone GPS to coordinate networks of smartphone-carrying helpers, all of whom can be location-tracked in real-time as they move clients from place to place. The smuggler encouraged clients to stop into Internet cafes along the way to update their progress.
Countries including Honduras are reportedly aware of the increased use of the tactic, and law enforcement agencies have begun monitoring social media for coyotes, and targeting them as opposed to users actively seeking help crossing the border.
Honduran police have reported instances of entire smuggling negotiations occurring via Facebook. (RELATED: Honduran Community Leader Begs Obama: Don’t Give Money To Our Government)
“The objective is to look for the coyotes, the “polleros,” not to look for the people migrating,” Honduras’ national police head Ramon Sabillon said in the report. “The social networks are just one more tool for us.” (RELATED: Obama Eyes Executive Action On Immigration By Early September)