Mexican Cartels Taking in $13 Billion Annually Smuggling Illegal Migrants

A report this week from the New York Times shows that Mexican drug cartels are raking in billions each year by smuggling illegal migrants across the southern U.S. border.

The Times estimated the illegal human trafficking revenue to run at $13 billion annually. That is a stunning increase from the annual amount they made as recently as 2018. That year it was estimated to be $500 million. Since then the cartels have significantly ramped up their involvement in the lucrative illicit trade.

According to the report, the Times spoke with a family member of two of the migrants who died in the incident in June that killed 53 in a sealed tractor-trailer outside San Antonio. That person said the family took out loans to pay the cartel smuggling fee of $10,000 per person. The report stated that smuggling fees currently range from $2,000 up to $40,000 per person.

At least 5,046 people have been arrested and charged with human trafficking this year. That compares to the record for any previous full year of 2,762 in 2014.

The Times report did not include the revenue the cartels take in through smuggling illegal drugs.

Testimony from the director of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency before Congress last year indicated that the cartels are reaping ever greater profits through specialization. They have separate teams that handle transportation, logistics planning, surveillance, stash houses, and accounting in their human trafficking operations.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) addressed the America First Agenda Summit on Tuesday and discussed the amounts the cartels are estimated to be pulling in from different U.S. regions. He noted that cartels in south Texas are making around $150 million every week through human smuggling.

He also discussed how the Biden administration has largely turned its back on the problem. He posted a tweet the same day stating that so far this year in the Rio Grande Valley, law enforcement agents have seized 144 pounds of fentanyl and more than 27,500 pounds of methamphetamines. He demanded that Joe Biden “do his job and enforce the law.”

Former Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf served during the Trump administration and noted earlier this month that around 1.7 million illegal aliens have crossed the southern border since Biden assumed office.

Wolf posted a tweet stating that the apprehensions at the border for June shot above 200,000 for the fourth month in a row and the fifth month overall under Biden. He noted that the only month before the Biden administration that saw more than 200,000 apprehensions occurred back in 2000 during the Clinton administration.