Drug traffickers using innovative ways to evade border security
Even though the United States spend billions of dollars to stop illegal drugs coming in from the Mexican border, traffickers have been exploiting the weak spots in the customs and immigration system. Drug cartels are now using innovative methods to carry on their business after the federal government started using drones, sensors, cameras and other technologies to curb the illegal activity on the border.
Illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine and marijuana still find their way into the country and are shipped through mail or by air. A major chunk of the illegal drugs, hidden in secret compartments, are also shipped into the U.S. through various vehicles, evading border security.
In January 2014, special agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement received a tip about a drug courier landing at the Baltimore airport. A few hours later, a man from Guatemala was found loading some bags into a car outside the airport. A thorough search of the duffel bags by authorities did not yield anything apart from food. However, after further investigation, the car’s driver admitted that the drugs were concealed in sugar wafers.
The duo were the key links of a network of smugglers, whose operations spread across thousands of miles, who got large shipments of heroin smuggled into the U.S. Law enforcement officials confirmed that members of a prominent drug trafficking organization of Guatemala—the Ipala cartel–would ship illegal drugs by hiding them in food items, mainly sugar wafers, soups, lollipops and other candies.
With the usual ports of entry getting more and more inaccessible, traffickers of the Guatemalan cartel had to come up with other and better means of smuggling heroin. The smugglers targeted the weak points of the security forces at the border and used mail, FedEx and air cargo to ship drug consignments. According to officials, there is a possibility that the Ipala cartel used this method of smuggling so that they would not have to pay Mexican drug cartels for crossing their territory.
Jayson Ahern, who was the acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) under President George W. Bush, says that these drug trafficking organizations cannot be mistaken to be gangs as they are very “adaptive adversary.” He further said that if one of the transportation networks was cut off, the traffickers would still try other means to move their goods in the market.
Drug trafficking along US-Mexico border
Mexican drug cartels are increasingly using narco tunnels for trafficking. Such tunnels are being used for smuggling of illicit drugs like marijuana and methamphetamine. According to the latest Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) survey, 224 border tunnels originated in Mexico from 1990 to March 2016, including 185 that entered the U.S. The success of these tunnels can be attributed to the noise from constant vehicular traffic on the American side and urban construction on the Mexican.
The high demand for drugs in the American markets has created a huge cross-border drug trafficking network, forcing drug dealers to resort to creative ways to get their wares into the U.S. territory. Investigations have shown that Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) like Sinaloa cartel are also using other innovative ways — from fake carrots, catapults and drones to human stomach – to smuggle illicit substances in the U.S. Apart from the Sinaloa cartel, other major DTOs like Gulf cartel, Juarez cartel and Los Zetas cartel pose an unending threat of illegal drugs crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The road ahead
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