by WorldTribune Staff, March 5, 2019
Smugglers not only charge thousands of dollars to traffic illegals into the United States, but quite often sexually abuse women and children along the way, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials say.
Marlene Castro, a former supervisory Border Patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas, said no one crosses the Rio Grande into the United States without paying something.
“It could be cash, it could be jewelry, some possession of yours, or whatever, but you’re going to pay,” Castro said. “There are cases where the women – with the expectation of getting raped – prepare themselves by getting on birth control, or taking birth control, for the purpose of the journey.”
“Many times, you’ll see parents [who] want their children to have a better life … send their child along with a friend, a cousin,” Greg Nevano, assistant director of ICE Homeland Security Investigations’ investigative programs, told The Epoch Times.
“And along the route – which is a long journey to the United States – the smugglers will then exploit the children. They’ll say, if you don’t pay us additional money, or if you do not perform these types of activities – some of which are sexual activity, some of them could be forced labor – we will kill your family back home.”
Timothy Ballard, founder of the anti-trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad, said that as many as 10,000 children are trafficked into the United States every year to be used as sex slaves.
Ballard cited the story of a 13-year-old girl from Central America who was kidnapped from her village and smuggled into the United States across an unpatrolled part of the southwest border.
She was taken to New York City. “This little girl – and this is very typical – was raped for money every day, 30 to 40 times a day,” Ballard said during a White House roundtable on Feb. 1.
Last year, Border Patrol apprehended nearly 400,000 illegals along the southwest border. This year, it’s on track to pass 600,000 illegal crossers, the vast majority coming from Central America.
Alma Tucker, founder and president of International Network of Hearts, an organization dedicated to helping children recover from human trafficking, cited the case of a young girl smuggled into the U.S.
“[The girl] was only 14 years old, and the smuggler – the parents paid the smuggler to bring her undocumented to the mountains, to this country. But the smuggler told her that her parents didn’t pay a full amount for her transportation, and she had to pay,” Tucker said at the White House on Feb. 1.
“She had to pay with her own body, and have sex with all the people in the group. Then go through this journey. And they forced her to have sex 20, 30 times until Border Patrol rescued her.”
The National Human Trafficking hotline has received reports of 45,308 human-trafficking cases since 2007. California, Texas, and Florida are identified as the worst three states for human trafficking.
ICE reported it made 1,588 human-trafficking arrests in fiscal year 2018 – almost all for sex trafficking – and saved 308 victims who were trafficked to the United States.
Nevano told The Epoch Times that traffickers use all means of coercion and false promises to control their victims.
“They beat the children, the women, if they don’t continue to perform, if they don’t earn money, if they try to flee,” he said. “They basically will extort them by saying that if you don’t perform these acts, we will call ICE, and ICE will come and arrest you.”