NewsLocal News


Smugglers using social media to recruit young drivers

Border Patrol says they're seeing the tactic come up more often
Posted at 6:24 AM, Apr 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-12 10:36:07-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Border Patrol officials in San Diego told ABC 10News they’re seeing smugglers using a new tactic that is truly a sign of the times.

“Smugglers use various tactics to facilitate their illegal activities,” said Agent Eric Lavergne of U.S. Border Patrol - San Diego Sector. “Of course, with social media being as prevalent and as popular as it is, they’re looking for drivers or smugglers.”

Border Patrol said this tactic is coming up more often.

“Where they’re listing ads saying, ‘You’ll need to pick someone up. You’ll make a lot of money real fast.’ But when it comes down to it, they target these younger individuals and those who they believe don’t have any prior criminal history because they tell them you won’t get in trouble,” Lavergne said.

Law enforcement can’t track that communication with the social media tactic, according to Border Patrol.

Border Patrol told ABC 10News that the recruited drivers, who come down from San Diego and sometime Los Angeles, are picking up these individuals near the border after they had illegally crossed then they’re taken to other locations.

But the ruse of not getting into trouble is just that with these listings.

“Of course, they leave out all of the parts of your vehicle will be seized for smuggling, you’ll likely be handcuffed, put in jail for at least within the station for a day or a couple of hours, and then that felony, that’s on your record sticks with you,” Lavergne said.

Some who cross the border at the Port of Entry in San Ysidro regularly say they’ve heard about this being done but are still shocked to hear it happening.

“I mean, they just make it look easy, you know? And then when people are young, it’s easier for them to make mistakes. Their action comes out of their first thought,” traveler Danny Bautista said.

There are others who haven’t heard about this tactic or trend by smugglers, but they say the concept is suspicious.

“So, everything that involves crossing the board with money, you know there’s something fishy about it,” said traveler Diego Perez.

Border Patrol said if you see these posts and they seem fishy, it’s likely that’s not anything good.

“Just remember those charges and all of that sticks with you for, you know, your adult life. All of the stuff you do as an 18-year-old, 19-year-old, that sticks with you later on when you’re trying to other things with your life,” Lavergne said.

Border Patrol also said often times when people respond to these listing, there’s no guarantee you’re smuggling only people. The person who someone who they could be picking up could have drugs on them, or they have their own criminal records as well.