Alien smuggling within the U.S. is being organized via social media ads

KABB Fox 29 (San Antonio) reports that ICE Homeland Security Investigations is searching for investigative leads helping them to identify certain human smuggling organizations. These criminal organizations hire people to transport illegal aliens with the United States, via ads placed on social media.

U.S. Code Title 8 Aliens and Nationality, Section 1324 Bringing in and harboring certain aliens, defines as a severe offense the act of knowingly transporting an illegal alien within the United States. A person convicted of alien smuggling can be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 5 years. If the offense was done for financial gain, they be fined, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both.

People who respond to those ads for some needed cash aren't always aware of the illegal nature of their task, but sometimes they are — and sometimes they get caught.

One young woman was offered a thousand dollars over craigslist for a ride from the border city of Eagle Pass, Texas to San Antonio, and is now facing Federal charges for transporting two illegal aliens.

Often, the initial encounter with the driver and passengers is made by Border Patrol agents. Once an arrest is made, the investigation is handed over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). HSI officials relate that human smuggling organizations will seek out anyone willing to do their dirty work, whether or not they're aware of the illegal status of their passengers.

Organizers of these online recruitment operations can target juveniles, who believe they can avoid jail sentences, or students looking to make ends meet. Sometimes they will even search for drivers in inner cities or large metropolitan areas, to take advantage of people low on funds or who are just trying to make some quick cash.