Today we are witnessing one of the worst ever instances of human trafficking in the world, but it is not happening in some distant third-world country. It is happening in the U.S.A.!
Our government is fully aware of the situation, but instead of acting to prevent the crime, our government is complicit.
This human trafficking is managed and controlled by the same cartels that produce the illegal drugs entering the country. The cartels employ the same routes, connections, techniques and organizations for both drug and human trafficking. The big difference is that human trafficking is much safer and profitable since transit fees are collected in advance of shipping and the product need only arrive at our border, avoiding the need and risk associated with a distribution network.
So how exactly does this human trafficking operation work? The operators openly advertise their services in social media and publications, listing fees for transport of people across Mexico and delivery into the U.S.A. The normal fee is $9,000 for a foreigner and $5,000 for a Mexican.
Certain applicants can avoid paying fees if they agree to function either (a) as a “mule” that carries the most dangerous drug fentanyl into the U.S.A. or (b) to work in an illegal marijuana plantation owned by the cartel in the USA. The cartel being one of the major illegal growers of marijuana in the US. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful drug, fabricated in China and shipped to Mexico prior to transport into the U.S.A.
More people are killed in the U.S.A. by overdosing with fentanyl than are killed by guns and traffic accidents put together, and most of the fentanyl deaths are young people.
Recently the amount of fentanyl recovered at the San Diego border was enough to kill almost every man, woman, and child in our state.
In the last two years, estimates are that enough fentanyl has been introduced into our country to kill every single person.
Most foreigners being trafficked are Mexicans and Central Americans (mostly from Honduras, Guatemala, and San Salvador), but it is not unusual to find people arriving at our southern border from all over the world. Recently, more than 9,000 Russians arrived there.
For Ukrainians displaced by war, it is easier to purchase transport from a cartel to enter the U.S.A. than to try to enter legally as refugees. In March of this year 3200 Ukrainians arrived at the southern border.
The traffickers run a well-organized business with the complicity of many officials in Mexico. No country would allow millions of individuals, many of them foreigners, to pass through up to 1,000 miles of their territory without some level of complicity. A conservative figure for money that the cartel collects for just the human trafficking is $18 billion a year, which does not include profits from fentanyl or marijuana plantations.
People are organized in caravans, and everyone who pays the fee is given a password.
At different locations during the trip the bus, trucks or trains are stopped by local officials where passwords must be verified. Anybody without the proper credentials is removed, and there are harsh consequences for those who try to avoid paying the cartel. The cartel clients are delivered to targeted parts of U.S. territory or to ports of entry where the passage to our country has been much facilitated during the present administration.
There are also collaborative cartels in Colombia and Venezuela, and many Venezuelans and Cubans are now appearing at the border. Around the year 2010 the Chilean government granted asylum to more than 100,000 Haitians. The newcomers were provided with jobs, shelter, education and other benefits. They lived in Chile for many years, but as soon as the present administration took over in our country, the Haitians decided that what Chile had given them was not good enough so that they decided to come to our country. Aided by cartels, thousands traveled more than 5,000 miles, including crossing of the Panama Canal, to arrive at our border.
How are these poor people able to make the payments, since the cartels basically control all paths and do not let anyone pass without paying? In many cases, people who have previously illegally crossed our border and are safely living here help by paying the full or part of the cartel fee, knowing well that they will share some of the newcomer’s benefits and in a short time be repaid with interest.
So far, the effort from our government to stop this criminal activity has been minimal.
President Joe Biden selected Vice President Kamala Harris to develop a plan to solve the illegal immigration problem. Her only effort has been to visit some Central American countries and ask the people not to attempt the perilous journey. This tepid proposal was seen as a green light by the cartel and people planning to illegally come to our country, thus greatly accelerating the rate of arrivals at our southern border.
Unless our government supports immigration laws that require people to apply and receive permission to enter the country legally, it will continue to support and import criminal activity, enrich the cartel and kill many of our legal citizens!
The author lives in Santa Barbara
Albert Mercado served as foreman of the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury during 2006-2007.