(CNSNews.com) – Associate Chief of U.S. Border Patrol Intel Carl McClafferty said Friday that human traffickers are using children to smuggle illegal immigrants across the border as a family unit and recycling the children back across the border to be used again.
October 2008 was the first time the Border Patrol ever had more family units than single adults apprehended, McClafferty said during a White House meeting on combating human smuggling on the southern border.
“In Yuma, Arizona, we were catching groups of Guatemalans -- family units -- turning themselves into Border Patrol, crossing around where the fence ends. And I just started looking into it and found that some of the sponsors, after they were released, were the same person, with the same address and same phone number,” he said.
“So they reached out to HSI, to Charleston, South Carolina, where these people were going. HSI looked into it. There's something going on here. ‘Why don't you come out, and we'll do this case together?’ We went up to Charleston, followed a group that actually got released. They were picked up by the sponsor,” McClafferty said.
“Immediately after that, the smuggler pulled over and put a bag of trash in a dumpster. Agents recovered that. Inside was their ankle bracelet, their illegal documents, already discarded by these sponsors who tend to be in the smuggling organization. They investigated this case. We were able to tie this back to a larger group that was smuggling Guatemalans into South Carolina and other places,” he said.
As a result of their investigation, McClafferty said they got eight indictments and a warrant was served, resulting in 24 illegal aliens apprehended.
“And one of the indictments was a woman who was being paid $1,500 a child to take the children back to Guatemala who are not part of the actual family unit. So, she claimed to be doing this 13 times, and so we found out they were recycling these children. They would bring them up, smuggling them as part of a family group, recycle them back to Guatemala, put them in another family group, and come back up. So this was, you know, obviously an exploitation of these children,” he said.