SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — If your teenage child uses social media sites like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, they could be exposed to messages and videos from human traffickers looking for help.
The warning comes from the U.S. Border Patrol in San Diego, which recently launched an awareness campaign aimed at the parents of older teens, who are being actively targeted by criminal organizations along the border.
“In recent months actually we’ve seen an increase in smuggling organizations utilizing social media platforms to try and recruit teenagers,” Border Partol Agent Angel Moreno said.
According to Moreno, smuggling operations all along the southern border are actively looking for teens to get people across the border and/or to drive them deep into the U.S.
“It’s definitely something that’s very concerning,” said Moreno. “We want to remind the public that in the same way smugglers don’t care about the people that they’re actually smuggling, they don’t care and aren’t going to care about people they’re using to utilize as load drivers.”
Moreno wants to remind parents and grandparents that smuggling convictions come with a heavy price.
“These are felonies that carry 10 years in prison,” he said.
Most of the recruitment is said to target older teens north of the border, but some outreach by smugglers is also happening in Mexico.
The driver of an SUV that crashed last month in the Imperial Valley, killing 13 migrants, is believed to have been recruited to drive the ill-fated vehicle.
Moreno and fellow agents in San Diego are trying to get the word out to parents.
The Border Patrol has published flyers to help people understand the dangers and pitfalls of getting involved with smugglers.
The flyers also list a phone number, (619) 216-4180, where parents can report suspicious activity.