Cartels Profit $13 Billion Annually from Human Trafficking Alone

Mexican cartels profit $13 billion annually in human trafficking, according to Mark Morgan, former Chief Operating Officer and Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

That figure signifies a rise from $500 million in annual profits from human trafficking in 2015, a 2,540% increase.

Morgan, a visiting fellow in the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation, made the stunning revelation while responding to Florida Representative Matt Gaetz (R), who asked the former CBP official whether there would come a time when Sinaloa would “make more money moving people than moving drugs.”

“Just on moving people alone, it was a $500 million annual business profit for the cartels. And right now, it’s $13 billion,” Morgan said.

“That’s really quite a deal of business growth,” Rep. Gaetz replied.

“Just people. Not even talking about the drugs,” Morgan added.

Gaetz posted the exchange in a video on Twitter, writing that the cartel’s staggering increase in profits from human trafficking “is a direct result of the Biden Administration turning our Southern Border into a turnstile.”

In May 2015, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen told a Senate committee that Mexican drug cartels make $500 million a year from illegal human smuggling operations.

“To be clear—human smuggling operations are lining the pockets of transnational criminals. They are not humanitarian endeavors,” she said.

“Smugglers prioritize profit over people. And when aliens pay them to get here, they are contributing $500 million a year—or more—to groups that are fueling greater violence and instability in America and the region,” Nielsen went on to say.

In Feb 2021, criminal cartels earned as much as $14 million a day, The New York Post reported.

“Trafficking is a multibillion-dollar industry,” former Tucson Border Patrol Chief Roy Villareal said at the time.

“A lot of these vulnerable populations use their life savings. Some are essentially indentured servants and they’re working off this debt for a long period of time. In other cases, some of these migrants are asked to transport narcotics or some form of crime to work off a different part of their debt,” he stated.

In the report, smuggling fee revenues estimated by the Customs and Border Patrol showed traffickers made a total of $411.5 million in February taking people from Mexico and Central American countries to the U.S. border, amounting to an average of $14.6 million for each day in February.

Human smuggling enterprises have teams specializing in logistics, transportation, surveillance, stash houses, and accounting, which all support an industry whose revenues have “soared to an estimated $13 billion” as of July 2022, according to Homeland Security Investigations, the federal agency that investigates such cases, The New York Times reported.