Feds: Human Smuggling Up On Border

Illegal immigrant smuggling across the Arizona-Mexico border now rivals drug smuggling in terms of money made through such criminal enterprises, federal authorities on Thursday said.

Immigration reform advocates say they aren’t surprised to hear that and said recent efforts to gain control of the border won’t have much of an impact unless the federal government cracks down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

The U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Yuma sector has arrested 135,378 since October 2004 — up 43 percent from 94,673 for all of 2004, according to statistics provided by the Border Patrol.

Most of those come by way of illegal immigrant smuggling, the Border Patrol has stated.

“Times have changed when a decade ago just about anybody could be an entrepreneur if you knew the area and could charge $25 to $50 to smuggle someone into the U.S.,” said Customs and Border Protection spokesman Mario Villarreal.

Now smugglers charge $1,000 to $2,000 per person, “fees that rival drug smugglers,” Villarreal said.

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