Human Smuggling

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.

Security officials in Croatia arrested a human smuggling ring that was bringing in migrants across its border on its way to the European Union. The migrants were paying around $1,293 (€1,000) to the human smuggling gangs in order to be smuggled into Croatia.

Over the span of 10 years, the number of people smuggling into Croatia has increased each year. In 2012, the number of migrants who have illegally entered Croatia was estimated to be around 6,000.

Croatia is set to join the European Union in July, 2013. In preparation for its entry, it has been increasing its border patrol security by tripling the number of border patrol agents to around 6,000.

Source:  Zoran Radosavljevic, “Bosnia and Croatia crack down on human smuggling into EU,” Reuters, May 15, 2013.

Criminal justice agencies on the US-Mexico border have seen arrests for human smuggling in the Rio Grande Valley increase by 65 percent as more people attempt to enter the US. In March 2013, US Border Patrol agents arrested 16,000 people who were attempting to enter the country.

Between October 2012 to March 2013, authorities found around 70 bodies that were buried in the valley, over twice the amount of dead bodies found in the previous time frame the year before.

In comparison to the increase of arrest at the Rio Grande Valley, arrests of migrants at the Tuscon, Arizona area decreased by 3 percent last year.

The migrants attempting to enter the United States are not simply from Mexico. Human smuggling groups are sending people  originating from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

There were 94,532 arrests made by the US Border Patrol in 2012 of migrants who were not from Mexico. Nearly half of these non-Mexican migrants were arrested in the Rio Grande Valley.

Source:  Zac Fine, “Crossing the Rio Grande… with the help of a U.S. immigration officer as force targets upsurge in Mexicans trying to get over border,” Daily Mail, May 21, 2013.

Police in Brazil broke up a human smuggling ring in the federal capital of Brasilia. 80 people from Bangladesh paid smugglers up to $10,000 per person to be illegally smuggled into Brazil.

Authorities in Brazil report an increase in human smuggling activities.  With Brazil being South America’s largest economy, many migrants for other countries are illegally entering the country though smuggling routes through Peru and Bolivia.

(More fees charged by human smugglers here.)

Source:  Shobhan Saxena, “Brazil launches biggest military operation to check drugs, human trafficking,” Times of India, May 18, 2013.


In 2012, the United States Border Patrol apprehended 24,481 minors who were attempting to cross the border between the US and Mexico without an adult companion. The number of children apprehended in 2012 was three times the number of children caught in 2008.

In the state of Texas, between 80 to 120 children cross into the state illegally and without an adult each day.

Source:  Pamela M. Prah, “Tally of kids entering US illegally, and alone, is surging,” Arizona Daily Star, May 13, 2013.

Haitian migrants are paying human smugglers between $1,000 to $1,500 to be smuggled into the US territory of Puerto Rico. The migrants are targeting the island because it is much easier to enter the United States illegally once they are in US territory.

(Prices charged by human smugglers.)

The United States Coast Guard stated that it has captured 352 Haitian migrants who were attempted to smuggle into Puerto Rico in the first half of 2013. In comparison, between October 2010 to September 2011, the US Coast Guard captured 13 Haitian migrants.

Source:  Associated Press, “More Haitians Using Puerto Rico As Migrant Route,” NPR, May 6, 2013.

Each year, up to 12,000 people from China are smuggled into the United States without the proper documentation, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Each migrant is believed to have paid up to $50,000 to a human smuggler in order to be smuggled into the United States, creating a $600 Million human smuggling industry in China.

(More human smugglers fees.)

Source: “Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment,” UNODC, April 2013, Executive Summary, page v.

Migrants from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos reportedly pay human smugglers up to $192 Million a year in order to be smuggled into Thailand. Most of the revenue for smugglers is generated from Myanmar, where migrants pays an estimated $183 Million to human smugglers to bring them into Thailand. Migrants from Cambodia pay $4.7 Million, and people from Laos pay $4.3 Million to the smugglers.

The United Nations estimates that over 500,000 people are smuggled into Thailand each year.

(Prices paid to human smugglers.)

Source: “Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment,” UNODC, April 2013, Executive Summary, page iv.

Travel agencies in Romania were accused by prosecutors are being human smuggling rings to bring people into the United States and Canada from Mexico.

The agents would first send Romanians to Mexico due to the lack of visa requirement. From Mexico, the migrants then paid $8,000 in order to be illegally smuggled into the United States or Canada.

According to prosecutors in Romania, around 600 people used the various travel agencies to book flights. 300 of the travelers were found illegally in the United States.

Source:  Associated Press, “Romania: Trafficking Ring to US, Canada Broken Up,” ABC News, March 26, 2013.

In 2012, US Border Patrol Agents at the border of Arizona and Mexico arrested 126,500 migrants who were attempting to enter the United States illegally from Mexico. The number of captures was 78 percent lower than the 577,000 migrants apprehended in 2005.

Between 2005 to 2012, the United States Government increased its security personnel in the Southwest. The number of Border Patrol agents in the region doubled during the time frame to over 18,000 agents. The Customs and Border Patrol Agency also increased its air fleet, where it has over 260 aircraft operating in 2012.

Border Security Officials in the US state that most migrants in 2012 rarely attempt to cross the border without the hiring a human smuggler.

Source:  Julia Preston, “Arizona Border Quiets After Gains in Security,” New York Times, March 15, 2013.

The Ethiopia Embassy in Kenya stated that its citizens were detained in Kenya after being caught up in a human smuggling scheme.

The embassy reported that people were paying human smugglers $2,715 (50,000 Ethipoian Birr) to be smuggled from Ethiopia to South Africa. Instead, the smugglers were apprehended in Kenya by immigration officials.

Source:  “Ethiopia: Embassy Working to Repatriate Ethiopian Victims of Trafficking,” allAfrica, February 26, 2013.