Ed Bedford 2:59 a.m., May 22
Big Bucks For Human Smugglers
The human smuggling trade appears to be quite lucrative, according to a report by Courthouse News Service.
Eight men were recently indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for acting as “coyotes,” individuals who help others enter the country illegally. The men, mostly in their 20s and early 30s, were tasked with picking up illegal immigrants after their arrival in eastern San Diego County and transporting them to Orange County. For this, the immigrants were charged $4000 to $5000 per head.
If these numbers are correct, the cost of illegal transport is skyrocketing. In the early 1980s, coyotes charged as little as $50 to lead others across the border. Ten years later, a smuggler could be paid to lead a group all the way from El Salvador to the U.S. for between $1000 and $1500.
Enforcement of the law has also stiffened. The men, charged with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens, could face five years’ prison time and fines of up to $250,000. Despite the risk of such steep penalties, an expert doubted the drivers themselves received more than a small cut of the overall smuggling fee.