Human Smuggling


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  1. Value of the Human Smuggling Industry $35 Billion

Information and statistics about human smuggling and illegal transportion of migrants worldwide. Data about the routes, prices and journey are collected from intelligence agencies, security reports and other public information sources.

According to a report by the United Nations, an estimated $6.6 Million was made in 2010 by human smugglers bringing in illegal migrants to the United States.

The revenue was generated by migrants paying anywhere between $150 to $100,000. The fees charged by the smugglers was dependent on the immigrants country of origin. Charges covered everything needed for the journey, such as hotel stays, bribes and taxes paid to the drug cartels.

The United States Border Control apprehended 57,000 unaccompanied minors trying to illegaly enter the United States between October 2013 and June 2014.

(More human smuggling statistics.)

Source: Associated Press, “Migration Spotlights Mexican ‘Coyote’ Smugglers,” ABC News, July 21, 2014

A human trafficker who was arrested by security forces in Italy explained the cost structure a that migrants departing from North Africa to Europe must pay in order to be smuggled on a boat.

The boats that consist of the human smuggling market of North Africa to Italy are usually retired fishing boats that are in bad conditions. The migrants first must pay between $1,000 to $2,500 to reserve a spot on the boat. That fee is simply to have a spot on the boat. The migrant must them pay for all charges and expenses while on the boat. According to the trafficker, a life jacket costs $200. Bottles of water and cans of tuna costs up to $100. The “first class” section of the boat, which is located on the top deck and not being crowded into the ship’s hull costs $200 to $300. Blankets and rain coats costs $200. Pregnant women must pay $150 for catheters because many consider the urine of pregnant women to be poisonous. Use of the satellite phone for a few minuets costs $300. And children who are making the journey without parents are charged $1,500.

Between January and June 2014, security forces in Italy estimate that over 43,000 people have reached the Italian shores, an increase of 835 percent from the same period in 2013. In a single weekend at the end of May, a total of 3,162 migrants from Syria and North Africa were seized on 11 fishing boats off the coast of Sicily.

Source:  Barbie Latza Nadeau, “Confessions of a Human Trafficker Who Smuggled Desperate Migrants Into Europe,” Daily Beast, June 5, 2014.

Security Agencies guarding the borders of the European Union detected 107,000 people who were attempting to illegally enter the EU in 2013.

The number of people detected by security forces was higher than the 75,000 people detected in 2012.

Intelligence officials stated that most of the people attempting to be smuggled into the EU or illegally enter the EU in 2013 were from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

Source:  Alan Cowell and Dan Bilefsky, “European Agency Reports Surge in Illegal Migration, Fueling a Debate,” New York Times, May 30, 2014.

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Security agents in Germany broke up a human smuggling ring that were bringing in people to Germany with the use of dead people’s passports.

According to the Associated Press, the ring were charging people from Syria and other countries up to $6,830 (€5,000) for passports of dead people. These passports would be used to gain entry into Germany. While raiding several buildings in Berlin, police found passports from Germany, Morocco, and Egypt.

(See more prices and information about fake passports and fake ids.)

Source:  Associated Press, “German funeral home sold passports of the dead,” Yahoo News May 15, 2014.

Based on previous intelligence and reports, the average price that a person from Cuba pays to human smugglers to be transported across the Florida Straits to the United States is $10,000.

A United States Federal Security Agent testified that when the person being smuggled out of Cuba is a potential Major League Baseball Player, then the smuggling fee can be up to 25 times higher, or $250,000.  In addition to these fee that must be paid to the smugglers, the baseball player and his family must agree to give up to 20 percent of the initial contract that is signed with a professional baseball team.

According to the Los Angeles Times, there are some current major league players from Cuba who are currently making payments to the smugglers while their families back home are threatened with violence is payment is not received.

Source:  Kevin Baxter and Brian Bennett, “In booming marketplace for Cuban players, Puig’s tale far from unique,” Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2014.

According to research organization Demoskopika in Italy, the mafia syndicate ‘Ndrangheta collected $73 Billion (€53 Billion) in revenue in 2013.

The various revenue streams for the syndicate is as follows:

Intelligence from criminal justice programs state that the ‘Ndragheta has around 400 key operatives working on its behalf in 30 countries. When including all people who conduct business on behalf of the group, then the number of people working for ‘Ndragheta is estimated to be as high as 60,000.

Source:  AFP, “‘Ndrangheta mafia ‘made more last year than McDonald’s and Deutsche Bank’,” Guardian, March 26, 2014.

According to research organization Demoskopika in Italy, the mafia syndicate ‘Ndrangheta collected $73 Billion (€53 Billion) in revenue in 2013.

The various revenue streams for the syndicate is as follows:

Intelligence from criminal justice programs state that the ‘Ndragheta has around 400 key operatives working on its behalf in 30 countries. When including all people who conduct business on behalf of the group, then the number of people working for ‘Ndragheta is estimated to be as high as 60,000.

Source:  AFP, “‘Ndrangheta mafia ‘made more last year than McDonald’s and Deutsche Bank’,” Guardian, March 26, 2014.

In 2013, criminal justice programs in the Netherlands investigated 175 cases of human smuggling across the country. The number of smuggling cases were an increase of 25 percent from the human smuggling cases investigated in 2012.

An estimated 1,500 people are residing in the Netherlands without proper documents or visas. Most of these individuals originated from Afghanistan and Syria. Security officials state that most of the people are attempting to continue onto Germany, Scandinavia or France.

The Royal Military Police also investigated 122 human trafficking cases in the Netherlands in 2013. The trafficking cases increased by 10 percent from 2012.

(Price of human traffickers and victims when sold.)

Source:  Mazime Zech, “More Human Trafficking Last Year,” NL Times, March 21, 2014.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, organized crime groups that facilitate human smuggling are able to generate up to $109 Million a year from transporting illegal migrants around the world.

Most of the people that are smuggled are from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and are attempting to enter Australia by traveling by sea across the Indian Ocean. Many of the people that utilize these services are religious minorities who are escaping persecution and attempting to claim asylum in Australia.

There are also cases reported of Pakistani migrants who are smuggled to Europe. According to the UNODC, there have been incidents where the migrants have been caught holding fake id cards and counterfeit documents.

In addition, criminal justice departments in Pakistan have also seen an increase in people from Syria and Egypt using these human smuggling networks to escape the violence in their countries.

Source:  Ayaz Gul, “UN: Human Trafficking Increasing in Pakistan,” Voice of America, January 23, 2014.

According to statistics collected by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 2,360 migrants died while attempting to cross borders around the world in 2013.

For sea-based crossing by boats, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, and the waters surrounding Indonesia and Thailand saw a number of deaths of migrants attempting to cross borders.

For land-based traveling, the border between Mexico and the United States and the desert between West Africa and Libya were also considered to be dangerous routes for migrants.

The value of the black market in human smuggling was estimated to be worth $35 Billion a year industry, according to the IOM. This figure is higher than the previously $20 Billion estimate made in 2009.

Source:  “It’s Time to Take Action and Save Lives of Migrants Caught in Crisis,” International Organization for Migration, Press Release, December 17, 2013.