Arrests of human smugglers are up dramatically along the U.S.-Mexico border while the numbers of would-be migrants detained has decreased, the Associated Press reports. Analysts say this is a sign that the human trafficking linked to the deaths of 19 migrants abandoned in a semitrailer last week has increasingly become professional, and organized gangs are taking over the trade.
“Some of the older mom and pop organizations no longer cut it, so you have some bigger time rings going up,” said Andrew Schloenholtz of the Institute for International Migration at Georgetown University. “They may have started out with drugs and figured, ‘Gee whiz, we can make a thousand dollars a pop per migrant.'”
Since October, U.S. Border Patrol agents working just one section of the Texas-Mexico border region have arrested 1,357 human smugglers, a 51 percent increase over the same time last year. So far for the 19-county McAllen Sector, from the remote Starr County brushland to the Gulf of Mexico and north past Victoria, there have been 13 percent fewer migrants arrested compared with last year.