Stemming the tide of illegal drugs and aliens

Posted: Feb 18, 2003 12:00 AM
Smuggling illegal drugs into the United States has been a big moneymaking scheme for years, but the industry of smuggling people may be getting even more profitable than marijuana or cocaine. Fees range from $1,000 for Mexicans to $4,000 for Central Americans and up to $50,000 for Chinese or Middle Easterners. The eighteen-wheeler is the smuggler's vehicle of choice. A loaded eighteen-wheeler can be worth $100,000 to $200,000. The business deal calls for a down payment before the ride starts. After crossing the border, the smugglers often hold the aliens until family or friends pay a ransom. In one of the largest operations, smugglers were indicted for bringing in at least 11 tractor-trailer loads of aliens between 1999 and 2002, receiving about $1,500 for each alien. Drugs, prostitutes and money were used to entice drivers into using their eighteen-wheelers to haul human cargo. Their last trip was deadly. The illegal aliens were loaded into the trailer with little water and no food and, in the intense heat, many suffered hallucinations and lost consciousness. Two died. In Brownsville, Texas, three men pleaded guilty in connection with another alien-smuggling ring that transported three truckloads of 30 people a day from Mexico to Houston, where people were hidden in houses until they could be shipped north. Western Union receipts showed that the smugglers raked in more than $5 million for their racket, which went on for years. A school bus mechanic was arrested in Syracuse, N.Y., on charges he tried to smuggle 15 Chinese nationals across the St. Lawrence River from Canada. The families had paid international smugglers between $15,000 and $40,000 for safe passage to the United States. Iraqi native George Tajirian ran a smuggling ring, charging $15,000 per head, importing more than 1,000 Middle Eastern aliens. Two men from Pakistan and Sri Lanka were arrested in Miami on charges that they smuggled Middle Easterners into the United States for $20,000 each. Tragic truck and van accidents have been reported all over the United States as illegal aliens are transported far from the border. In Brownsville, Texas, 73 illegal aliens were found hidden in a tractor-trailer among overripe watermelons to disguise the odor of the people. After a truck with illegal aliens slammed into a tractor-trailer killing nine people in Iowa, state officials estimated that 1,000 illegal immigrants cross Iowa on I-80 in overloaded vans and trucks every day. In Denison, Iowa, 11 bodies were found in a railroad car. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, about 65 percent of the cocaine and most of the marijuana that enters this country comes from Mexico. In just one week last December, a San Diego radio station reported that U.S. agents caught Mexicans driving a van with 5,989 pounds of marijuana valued at $2.7 million, a produce truck with 8,596 pounds of marijuana, an sports utility vehicle overloaded with a 1,000-pound haul of marijuana, a big rig carrying a ton of marijuana, and $213,000 worth of marijuana coming over a mobile ramp system built to drive vehicles over a border fence and directly into the United States. Border Patrol agents in south Texas caught 22 illegal aliens from Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador transporting 1,700 pounds of marijuana worth $1.25 million. Drug investigators have discovered three tunnels and a fourth under construction at the U.S.-Mexico border at Nogales, Mexico. Hundreds of drug traffickers have flooded into North Carolina. In 1995, only 10 Hispanics were in state prisons for drug trafficking convictions, but the number has now risen to 400. It should be no surprise that the combination of clusters of illegal aliens and the persistence of illegal drugs has increased the crime rate. Arizona police report that 60 percent of the homicides in Phoenix involve Mexicans mixed up in smuggling drugs and people, Tucson's crime rate has grown 12 times the national average, and a vehicle is stolen in Arizona every 10 minutes. City gangs are a big problem in many states, and gangs have invaded the suburbs, too. The worst city gang is thought to be MS-13, a ruthless Salvadoran gang that has spread to at least 28 states including Massachusetts. The deserts and the national parks have become favorite routes for the entry of illegal aliens. Last year, 200,000 illegal aliens were caught sneaking into the United States through the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona, and 700,000 pounds of illegal drugs were intercepted. Two armed Mexicans, who had killed four men in a murder spree over drugs, crossed into the Arizona state park on Aug. 9, and three agents including National Park Service ranger Kris Eggle responded. One fugitive was captured but the other fled, and Eggle, who had been a cross-country runner, gave chase, was shot below his bulletproof vest and died in an ambulance. Where is any media or public outrage over this murder by an illegal alien on U.S. territory? One million illegal aliens are now entering our country each year. If a Mexican day laborer can sneak across our border, so can al-Qaeda terrorists. According to a Fox News poll, 79 percent of Americans support using the military to help secure U.S. borders.