- Smugglers are bringing their children when transporting illegal immigrants further into the country as a way to hide their nefarious operations, according to current and former law enforcement officials who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- The smuggling is occurring during a record surge in illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, where federal authorities recorded more than 2.3 million migrant encounters in fiscal year 2022.
- “It’s what happens when people care more about making a few dollars than the health and safety of their own family members,” Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd told the DCNF.
Drivers smuggling illegal immigrants into the country are bringing their young children to “cover” their crimes, according to current and former law enforcement officials who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
State, local and federal authorities have recorded several instances in recent years of smugglers bringing their children while driving illegal immigrants to American cities away from the border, according to law enforcement posts and local media. The smuggling events have often coincided with large surges in illegal immigration. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: DHS Wants To Pay An Outside Group Millions To Write Rules For Tracking Illegal Immigrants In The US)
“It’s what happens when people care more about making a few dollars than the health and safety of their own family members,” Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd, whose county is about a three hour drive from the Texas-Mexico border, told the DCNF.
“For them, it’s all about cover when it gets stopped. Totally pretend like they’re out doing something legitimate,” Boyd added.
In fiscal year 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded more than 2.3 million migrant encounters, a record. On top of that, the agency recorded the highest month ever in December, which had more than 250,000 migrant encounters.
In Texas alone, the state has made more than 23,000 criminal arrests related to human, drug and/or weapons smuggling since March 2021, according to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s office.
Smugglers are often paid thousands of dollars for transporting illegal immigrants, according to an ad the Cochise County, Arizona, Sheriff’s office earlier told the DCNF.
Some of those arrests have involved smugglers bringing their children. In one case, a 24-year-old Texas woman had her one-year- old child in the car when she was allegedly attempting to smuggle three illegal immigrants, according to an Oct. 12 tweet from Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Lieutenant Christopher Olivarez.
LA SALLE CO – @TxDPS arrested a 24 y/o female from Weatherford, TX, for smuggling 3 illegal immigrants from MX. The driver had her 1 y/o child during the smuggling attempt. She was charged w/ human smuggling & endangering a child. #OperationLoneStar pic.twitter.com/4IE3rhaM2D
— Chris Olivarez (@LtChrisOlivarez) October 12, 2022
In Arizona, a Border Patrol agent apprehended a Mexican woman allegedly attempting to smuggle seven illegal immigrants brought her “tender age child” with her.
At a gas station in Benson, AZ, a Willcox Station agent encountered an #SUV suspected of #HumanSmuggling. The agent determined the Mexican citizen driver was traveling with her tender age child while smuggling seven Mexican citizens. She faces criminal smuggling charges. pic.twitter.com/lC4BPtBNQg
— John R. Modlin (@USBPChiefTCA) January 22, 2023
“What they do is they’ll bring their kids with them because that way, if they get stopped, they’re less likely to be suspected of something if they have their children with them,” Boyd said of the smugglers’ tactics.
“And a lot of times when we encounter them, they’ll tell their kids to lay down and pretend to be asleep or sometimes the kids will be asleep because they left the house at one o’clock in the morning and we’re encountering them at like nine or ten in the morning around here, when they’re on their way back,” he added.
Another woman recently allegedly attempted to smuggle illegal immigrants while driving with her two young children, one five months old and the other one year old, in the car, KTAR News reported in September. The incident led to a law enforcement chase, where the alleged smuggler tried to hit sheriff’s deputies with her vehicle.
“These human smuggling attempts are incredibly dangerous for all involved, including law enforcement, the general public, those being trafficked illegally and, unfortunately in this case, innocent children,” Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, whose located in Arizona, said at the time, according to KTAR News.
Smugglers are constantly employing new tricks in order to skirt arrest, a CBP spokesperson earlier told the DCNF.
“Smugglers utilize various tactics to evade law enforcement with little to no regard for the safety of innocent people as they smuggle illicit contraband and migrants into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is aware that smugglers constantly change their tactics. Our law enforcement personnel continually evaluate trends and adjust operations as appropriate with the safety of all involved remaining a priority,” the CBP spokesperson said.
“Having children along is definitely a benefit for them to be able to disguise what they’re doing in every way possible,” Executive Director of the Texas and Southwest Border Sheriff’s Coalition Clint McDonald told the DCNF.
Lorenzo Prieto contributed to this report
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