Cartels at the U.S. southern border are reportedly turning to social media apps like the popular video-sharing platform TikTok, to recruit their help smuggling people across the U.S.-Mexico border.
During an April 1 press conference, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott showed photos captured from the TikTok app, of videos offering thousands in cash for drivers to smuggle people across the border.
“A concern that we have is how brazen and open the drug cartels are getting in trying to recruit people here in the state of Texas to assist them in these crimes,” Abbott said.
“These are two pictures from TikTok and these are ads or videos, things that are being run by cartels on TikTok, trying to recruit people in Texas to assist them commit their crimes, with the promise of money as well as other things,” Abbott continued. “And it’s rare, I’m told, to see the cartels operate that openly, so that it could be seen by law enforcement.”
Weeks after Abbott’s press conference, sources for Fox News provided even more photos of the alleged cartel smuggling advertisements that have been appearing on social media.
“Must need a car or truck,” one advertisement said. “Need 2 or 3 drivers to go through a checkpoint. Got some on Sullivan got a group of 10. Cash ready.”
Another advertisement said, “Got another 6 left, already crossed. Lemme know ASAP for that easy cash.”
A third advertisement said, “Got 15 ready to fo throw lmk. EZ CASH DONT SLEEP.”
Sources told Fox News that those teenagers and young adults who take the smuggling jobs are often using their parents’ SUVs for the jobs. They said one teenager’s mother started crying when she got a call from authorities about her daughter’s involvement in the smuggling operation.
The smuggling operations are reportedly taking place amid a months-long surge in border crossings. There were an estimated 172,000 border encounters with migrants in March alone, but authorities estimate there were more than 1,000 “gotaways” who snuck into the U.S. every single day.”
Fox News reported authorities are so overwhelmed at the border that teens who are caught often get off with little to no punishment.
Republicans have increasingly criticized President Joe Biden for rolling back Trump-era policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols. The Migrant Protection Protocols forced immigrants caughty trying to enter the U.S. illegally or without proper documentation, to wait in Mexico until an immigration judge can hear their case and choose to either grant or deny admission into the U.S.
Several border states have already taken their own actions to control the number of illegal immigrants attempting to enter the U.S.
On Tuesday, Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an emergency declaration and sent deployed around 250 National Guard troops to the border to provide logistical support for law enforcement agencies dealing with the border crossings.
In March, Abbott also launched Operation Lone Star in the state of Texas, to “deny Mexican Cartels and other smugglers the ability to move drugs and people into Texas.”
During his April 1 press conference, Abbott said, “Operation Lone Star is doing everything they can to keep our community safe, but this problem is not going to be fixed until the Biden administration does its job to secure our border and to get this crisis under control.”