The United States has arrested 192 suspected migrant smugglers in a crackdown on Mexico’s border with Texas in under a month, authorities said Tuesday.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the would-be people traffickers were detained along with more than 501 undocumented migrants, even as the United States scrambles to curb illegal immigration by thousands of unaccompanied minors.
The operation, from June 23 to July 22, underscores “the progress of ongoing enforcement efforts by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the United States Department of Justice to target human smuggling networks in the Rio Grande Valley,” Johnson said in a statement.
“We have continued to stress that our borders are not open to illegal migration and that if you enter the United States illegally, we will send you back,” Johnson said.
“Equally important, those who prey upon migrants for financial gain will be targeted, arrested and prosecuted,” he warned.
The United States has seen a huge surge in young migrants fleeing gang violence and poverty in Central America — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
More than 47,000 children crossed the border illegally without an adult between October and May, nearly doubling the figure from the six months prior, in what President Barack Obama and leading lawmakers have termed a humanitarian crisis.
US officials expect that figure to reach 60,000 this year, said Mark Greenberg, acting assistant secretary for the administration of children and families at the Health and Human Services Department
Most of them are smuggled into the United States by migrant traffickers.