Human smugglers are offering money to teenagers on apps like TikTok and Instagram to move migrants from Mexico entering the U.S. by road to larger cities, investigators say, Fox News reported.
Texas Department of Public Safety officer Christopher Olivarez is the one who spoke about the strategy being implemented by these smuggling organizations, using teenage drivers who are supposed to pick up migrants on state highways, to continue on their way to cities like San Antonio, Austin, or Houston.
Olivera said that “there’s always been an issue with human smuggling,” but he gave assurances he had never seen the use of minors for this purpose in previous years.
The method of luring them is by offering them money on social networks.
“The smuggling organizations are starting to use and recruit juveniles through social media platforms. Tik Tok, Facebook, Twitter, even using WhatsApp for those encrypted messaging,” he said.
They use the strategy to post on the networks “that drivers are wanted, and drivers are needed,” showing videos “with lots of money,” Oliveras said.
But many of the migrants who are caught crossing privately owned ranches are not people who want to seek asylum in the U.S. but are criminals, and some are believed to be members of drug cartels.
“These are illegal immigrants that are traversing these ranches, privately owned ranches without the consent of the owner,” Olivera said.
In 2020, there were 1,700 arrests for human smuggling, while in 2021, there were more than 2,300. The security department believes it will be higher this year.
The Texas Department of Public Safety says it is important to warn children about these recruitment attempts on social media and to warn them of the serious consequences of human smuggling.
Fox News indicated that police this week arrested a 13-year-old boy who was smuggling migrants.
According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office on its website, since the launch of Operation Lone Star, more than 239,849 migrant arrests have been made, along with more than 14,364 criminal arrests and more than 11,666 felony charges.