Smuggling human beings has become a more profitable commodity than smuggling drugs. Just one person can command a profit of up to $100,000 for human smugglers, according to one criminologist in the Caribbean. That “premium package” could get the migrant a new identity, foreign passport, legitimate documents, and a plane ticket to the US.
According to criminologist Daurius Figueira in the island nation of Trinidad & Tobago, the smuggling of human cargo has higher profits and lower risks than smuggling drugs. He told The Guardian:
“Just as the Mexican cartels are now dominating the drug trade in the Caribbean, they have now introduced a new dimension to human smuggling in the Caribbean by ‘coyotes’ or human smugglers. Trinidad & Tobago is a major transshipment point. The majority of people entering the Caribbean are moving to enter US territory. They are more valuable than carrying drugs; you make more money per head. It depends on what package they buy ranging from US$35,000, $50,000 to the US$100,000 ‘premium.’ If you go for anything cheaper than that it means you will end up getting abused.”
Figueira explained that for that smuggling fee, the coyote would transport the migrant from Trinidad & Tobago across the Caribbean to Belize in Central America. From there, the migrant would be moved into Mexico, then across the southwest border into the US. Canada is another popular destination, with smugglers using Chicago and the Great Lakes area as a waypoint.
The route from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to the US is being used most heavily by Haitians, followed by Indian nationals. Syrians are traveling to the islands of Antigua and the US Virgin Islands before hopping to the US mainland. Figueira said the majority of people being smuggled were coming from Asia, and it was a big business: mostly Chinese, Indian nationals, Nepalese, and Filipinos, and there was a code of silence with regards to going to the authorities.
Tragically, Figueira told The Guardian that one of the most lucrative types of human trafficking—different from human smuggling in that the people involved are being transported involuntarily—was the smuggling of children for the sex trade where they were bought and sold over to pedophiles. Smuggled children were considered extremely valuable and were usually accompanied by an adult, either a family member or guardian and traveled by air.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.