Human smuggling is the attempted transportation, facilitation, or illegal entry of a person or several people across an international border or borders through deception and often with the use of fraudulent documents. Human smuggling has become a lot more complex and expensive in recent years, due to more compound law enforcement stings and the influx of agents that have been assigned to states were immigration has become an increasing problem. Here are some of the biggest human smuggling busts:
Arizona bust- In April of 2010, Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents, cooperating with several other agencies busted a human smuggling ring that carried thousands of illegal immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and China across the border to cities all over the United States, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. With over 800 agents, possibly the biggest coordination ever by ICE agents, the sting had been a work in progress for over 2 years. After bringing the immigrants into the US, the human smugglers worked with local shuttle companies that would transport them to places all over the US. 47 people were arrested and 10 million dollars in assets, including real estate and property, were seized in the bust.
Victoria, Texas bust- A human smuggling bust in Texas in May of 2003 stands to be the deadliest human smuggling attempt on record in the US. More than 100 male and female immigrants from Mexico, Honduras and the Dominican Republic were stuffed into a tractor-trailer in South Texas headed for Houston, Texas. The trailer was later found abandoned at a truck stop about 115 miles away from Houston; the people inside had clawed away at the insulation inside the trailer, kicked and punch holes in the sides of the trailer, and cried and screamed until they were discovered. Authorities found 17 people dead from suffocation and dehydration in and around the trailer and several dozen were sent to hospitals to be treated, 2 of which later died in the hospital. The driver of the truck was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Los Angeles, California raid- 8 people were arrested in October 2009 after police, ICE agents and investigators conducted a sting operation on a family that illegally smuggled immigrants into the US and housed them until they were transported. The family, which included a couple and their son, who were believed to be the masterminds behind the operation, would charge between 2500 and 4500 dollars to smuggle Mexican immigrants into the US, and charged even double to smuggle Chinese immigrants. The group is responsible for smuggling at least 200 immigrants a year into the US.
Chui Ping Cheng- Chiu Ping Cheng aka, “Sister Ping” was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2006 for her role in organizing a large human smuggling operation that lasted from 1984 and 2000. Cheng was charged with smuggling thousands of Chinese immigrants into the US- charging as much as $30,000 per person. Cheng was also involved in the Golden Venture tragedy in which the ship, which was carrying 300 illegal immigrants from China into the US, ran aground after a rebellion by the smugglers. 10 immigrants died trying to swim to shore, while the rest got away- or were deported or imprisoned.
Taiwan ring- In June of 2009, the National Immigration Agency arrested 74 suspects all in connection with a human smuggling operation that smuggled more than 40 Chinese citizens into the US, making over 3 million dollars, in 2 years. The group of smugglers was responsible for soliciting families that wanted to send their daughters to the US, and would sometimes charge them between 60 and 70 thousand dollars per person. The Border Affair Corps spent more than 8 months building their case leading up to the arrests of the 74 suspects; the main suspect, Ten Weng-shen, who is believed to have directed the operations, remains at large.