US Targeting Human Smuggling Groups With New Operation

April 27, 2021 Updated: April 27, 2021

The United States on Tuesday announced a new operation focused on combating human smuggling, with an emphasis on taking down criminal organizations that smuggle children, women, and men into the United States from Mexico and Canada.

“We know all too well that these organizations put profit over human life with devastating consequences. With the help of our federal and foreign partners, we aim to cut off access to that profit by denying these criminal organizations the ability to engage in travel, trade, and finance in the United States,”¬†Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters in a conference call.

“We intend to disrupt every facet of the logistical network that these organizations use to succeed. ”

Disruption will include identifying smugglers, their associates, and their employers, and using every authority in the arsenal, including revoking travel documents, freezing financial assets, and suspending trade entities.

Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) will be partners in the operation, according to U.S. officials.

Experts say smuggling into the United States has increased as the Biden administration’s lax border enforcement led to a tremendous surge in the number of illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico, even as administration officials insist the border is not open.

“It’s sort of like a house sale. The real estate agent is going to tell you that this house won’t be on the market very long so you better make an offer while you can. And at the same time, telling people that they should wait, really isn’t going to counter that sense of ‘get in.’ There’s a natural human tendency to take advantage of something while it’s available. And all the statements that they should wait and it is not available are belied by the fact that individuals are making it into the United States, are being released into this country,” Andrew Arthur, a resident fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Epoch Times in a previous interview.

Transnational groups have been using wristbands to track which illegal immigrants have paid the smugglers and which ones still owe money.

Epoch Times Photo
A Border Patrol agent checks an illegal immigrant who is wearing two wristbands that Mexican cartels have been using to control human smuggling into the United States, near Penitas, Texas, on March 15. 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Officials said Tuesday that the new effort, dubbed Operation Sentinel, will strengthen border security and help save the lives of vulnerable migrants who would otherwise trust the criminal outfits with their lives.

Customs and Border Protection agents have already rescued nearly 4,800 immigrants along the southwest border in the current fiscal year, including many who were abandoned by smugglers, Troy Miller, the official performing the duties of the agency’s commissioner, told reporters.

The cartels regularly ditch the injured and the weak during the trek to and across the border, such as a woman who fell 20 feet in the mountains in northern Mexico. She was later saved by U.S. agents.

“These migrants are abandoned in remote and dangerous areas, and usually left without food or water,” he said.

The message to smugglers, he added, is “we know who you are and we are coming for you.”

Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.

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