Smart Phone Smuggling: Mexican cartels using apps to sneak immigrants into U.S.

According to Arizona officials, Mexican cartels get American citizens to help smuggle migrants into the U.S. and pay them for it.
Illegal immigrants, CBP, Lukeville, Ariz., Dec. 8, 2023

As migrants pour into the U.S. illegally, Mexican cartels are using smartphones to facilitate their smuggling, making payments to drivers and manipulating the Customs and Border Protection app to get more people in. 

The CBP One app allows entrants to the United States to schedule appointments to appear at U.S. ports of entry.

Ostensibly, its users must be in northern Mexico to schedule an appointment, though reporting from the Washington Examiner suggested that users have turned to virtual private networks (VPN) to evade the geographic requirements.

House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, R-Tenn., confirmed to the outlet in August that the app was being abused by cartels to get more people into the U.S. 

“The Biden administration has continuously shown violent cartels that they may operate as they please at our Southwest border," Green said in a statement

"As I warned earlier this year, the cause of this humanitarian crisis is simple: migrants tested the system, called home, and millions came once they received confirmation of Secretary Mayorkas’ catch-and-release practices. According to this week’s bombshell report, drug cartels have seized on the newest iteration. This is further proof that the Biden administration’s use of the CBP One app is reckless and made a mockery of our homeland security—plain and simple."

Green has blasted Biden and Mayorkas for providing cartel organizations with "more innovative ways to evade our laws, rake in money from human and drug trafficking, and wreak havoc in our country."

The materials thus far obtained by the committee indicate that DHS admits nearly all of the inadmissible aliens who arrive at points of entry with an appointment made through CBP One.

Between Jan. 12, 2023, and Sept. 30, 2023, more than 278,431 appointments were made through the app, with roughly 95.8% of those individuals securing parole into the U.S. interior.

According to officials in Arizona, Mexican cartels also found a way to get American citizens to help smuggle migrants into the U.S. and pay them for it via smartphone apps.

State Sen. Justine Wadsack, R-Ariz, introduced legislation over the summer to make the use of apps for smuggling a felony. 

"I met with some sheriffs and the sheriffs were telling me about the trafficking that was taking place at the border with the use of phone apps and electronic devices, and the cartel was behind those apps," Wasdack said on the "Just the News, No Noise" TV show. 

"What it did was it allowed people to make $2,000 for every single illegal immigrant that was coming across, and they would put them in there..... you had soccer moms that were putting five or six illegal migrants in the back of their SUV," she explained. "That was paying for their SUV. They were paying off their car with what they were doing. It's illegal."

Wadsack's bill titled SB1408 would have made it a Class 2 felony to use a telephone or computer program to assist with human smuggling, according to a local outlet

Arizona Democrat Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed the legislation.

Wadsack went on to criticize Hobbs, alleging that she wants an open border and doesn't want to fix the crisis.

Hobbs, however, recently ordered the National Guard to the border and told the Biden administration she intends to bill the federal government for the use of the forces to protect the border.

Wadsack said it was too little, too late.

"Her first act as governor was to tear down the barriers that were put in place by the previous governor, and that showed everybody right there and then that she wants an open border," the senator said. "She has not been communicating with the legislature. She has not been telling us what her strategy is, much less for the National Guard. Because honestly, I don't think she has a strategy."