DRIVERS WANTED: How cartels are using social media to hire smugglers to traffic illegal immigrants

DRIVERS WANTED: How cartels are using social media to hire smugglers to traffic illegal immigrants
Texas police recently busted one such ride and found illegal immigrants inside the car of a woman along with her one-year-old baby (LtChrisOlivarez/Twitter)

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: A horrifying crisis has been unearthed by the Texas Department of Public Safety. TikTok and Snapchat may be aiding in exacerbating the recent human trafficking crisis. Apparently, cartels have found a unique and stealthy way to acquire drivers to traffic illegal immigrants to San Antonio from these social media apps. According to the New York Post, Texas Department of Public Safety Spokesman Lt Chris Olivarez said, "They don’t just come out and say we need a driver to smuggle people. They’ll have a little catchy phrase, like ‘driver wanted: direct message me.'"

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According to Olivarez, the smugglers then flood the person's chat with images of stacks of money to lure them. They will then share a photo of people being smuggled to paint a picture of the job that the drivers are hired for. However, the drivers were aware that the job they were given was a criminal offense in return for cash. 

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Olivarez spoke about the ongoing human trafficking crisis. According to the outlet, he said. "A driver from Indiana was recruited in this way and was promised $3,000 per immigrant he was able to get from a Texas border town to San Antonio. Olivarez also claimed to have seen a TikTok video offering a $7,000 to any driver who was willing to go for a spin from the state's Rio Grande Valley to Houston.  

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The drivers come from all over the country, and from cities in Texas including Dallas and Houston, to smuggle immigrants from small borders such as Del Rio and Eagle Pass. Texas cops recently busted such an illegal ride. In the driver's seat was a woman from Fort Worth along with her one-year-old baby, smuggling immigrants. She was charged with smuggling and child endangerment. 

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Olivarez said, "They use WhatsApp to send GPS coordinates because it’s encrypted. You’re going to go to this area and pick up these people here and you’re going to transport them to– the majority are going to San Antonio. That’s the drop-off spot. [From] San Antonio, they get smuggled further out– it’s always been the drop-off spot."

The recruitment of unknown drivers through social media comes with a price. The rookies often panic which often leads to a high-speed chase, according to NY Post. However, that has not halted the number of human smuggling cases. Rather they have only increased because of social media being involved as a recruiting medium.

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