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Official: Immigration Surge a Windfall for Smugglers

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Posted: Jul 8, 2014 6:36 PM

Updated: Jul 8, 2014 6:37 PM

WESLACO - The surge in illegal immigration in South Texas is resulting in big profits for smugglers.

Illegal immigrants pay thousands of dollars to get from their homeland to the U.S.-Mexico border. Once they get to the Rio Grande, they're finding out that their costly journey is not always paying off like they hoped.

Illegal immigrants often end up on their own once their cross into the United States. Border Patrol agents arrest many of them.

Border Patrol agent Joe Gutierrez said smugglers are not telling illegal immigrants about increased patrols along the international divide.

"One thing that has never changed is the ability of these smugglers to feed false information to these immigrants. They will take advantage of them, exploit them and, basically, take their money," Gutierrez said.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security said people will pay smugglers up to $1,500 just to cross the Rio Grande.

Smugglers can make up to $9,000 in just 15 minutes. DHS officials said cartels take a share of those profits.

"If you have money and they can take advantage of it, they will. Anything they can do to receive a good amount of money and take advantage of these immigrants, they will exhaust all resources to do that and that's what they're doing now," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said people will try to enter the United States illegally regardless of how much they have to pay, even with the increase in patrols along the border.

DHS officials say no exact pay scale for human trafficking exists. The agency gets its numbers from the people they detain.

Topics: illegal, immigration, rio grande valley, south texas, border, patrol, central america, obama administration, mexico, joe gutierrez, smuggler, cartel

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