Smugglers Use Social Media to Boast About Trafficking Migrants

( – With the drastic rise of illegal immigration and smugglers who transport immigrants across the southern United States border, authorities have noticed a new recruiting method used by people who engage in illegal smuggling.

According to members of Arizona’s law enforcement, human traffickers have taken to social media to find recruits and boast about their human smuggling operation. Smugglers have also started hiring teenagers to help their criminal enterprise, using social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to recruit them and plan out illegal smuggling operations.

An Arizona court sentenced a man in September 2023 for smuggling hundreds of immigrants into the United States, citing the convicted trafficker’s social media posts as evidence of his criminal operation. Police found several posts of the smuggler talking about his illegal immigration operation and detailing his actions while bragging about how much money he made from human smuggling. Investigators also found posts in which the convicted smuggler joked about hiring children for his operation and forcing immigrants into inhumane conditions while smuggling them into the United States.

While Snapchat and Instagram remain the most popular social media platforms for smugglers and other criminal operations, human traffickers have also used Telegram to advertise their criminal services and hire potential recruits. The New York Post investigated a Turkish-operated smuggling ring that allegedly used Telegram to advertise transportation into the United States. Immigrants have arrived from Turkey in record numbers over the last few years, which some authorities believe resulted from smugglers’ use of social media.

Smugglers have also shared information on the controversial social media platform TikTok, including information about how to avoid United States immigration officials and find safe areas to cross the southern border. Immigrants have also used TikTok to share information and tips about illegal immigration, including Leonel Moreno, an illegal immigrant who traveled from Venezuela to the United States.

Moreno has shared multiple videos about his experience with illegal immigration and has even provided tips on how to take advantage of American programs meant to assist illegal immigrants. Although smuggling operations and illegal immigrants have taken to TikTok to share information about crossing into the United States, platforms like Snapchat and Instagram haven’t taken substantial steps to prevent the controversial posts. Tom Homan, who once served as the director for ICE, has called on social media platforms to prevent smugglers from using their apps.

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