Amid the chaotic crush of migrants at America’s southern border, one group is reaping multimillion-dollar profits: Central America’s criminal drug cartels.
“A lot of Central American narcotics cartels — transnational criminal organizations — are facilitating smugglers in moving aliens, rather than drugs because it’s more profitable right now,” said Thomas Homan, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Homan, who is said to be President Donald Trump’s choice for the role of the first-ever national “border czar,” said the festering humanitarian crisis “is making these cartels very, very rich.”
John Davidson, a reporter who traveled to the Guatemala-Mexico border, confirmed Homan’s account.
“From the moment Central American migrants cross Mexico’s southern border and begin their journey north, the entire process is a massive, multifarious, black-market, moneymaking machine,” he wrote in the Federalist.
“Cartels generally require every man, woman and child who passes through their territory on the way to the U.S. border pay a tax, which is often included in the total fee smugglers quote to Central American families,” according to Davidson. “Without paying this tax [which Homan calls a “Plaza Fee”], migrants cannot cross the Rio Grande, and in many cases are at risk of being kidnapped or otherwise exploited.”
It’s easy money for the cartels. Using a rough, as well as conservative, estimate of Plaza Fees, Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies figures that the 144,000 illegal aliens who crossed the U.S. border in May paid $144 million to the cartels for final safe passage through northern Mexico.
“[The cartels] don’t have to grow a single poppy. They don’t have to make a single pound of meth. They just get the money, and if you don’t pay you’re dead,” Arthur says.
In a belated attempt to stanch the Central American migrant flow at its source, Mexico has pledged to deploy 6,000 troops to its 541-mile border with Guatemala. How effective that effort is over the long-term remains to be seen. The Guatemalan government – like Mexico’s — has been neck-deep in the drug- and human-smuggling industry for years.
While Washington politicians and presidential aspirants ritually bash Trump and bemoan the plight of migrants lining up to enter the U.S., a do-nothing Congress refuses to pass laws to stem the swelling tide of asylum seekers, or even to effectively manage the crowds once they’re here. Where’s the outrage over the criminal facilitation and profiteering of this humanitarian crisis?