Inside the Smuggling Economy on the US-Mexico Border: Big Take Podcast

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Migrants who illegally cross the US-Mexico border encounter a smuggling network whose operators are often highly vulnerable themselves.

The last leg of the global smuggling route through Mexico to the US is often shepherded by Americans who need the money. Each year, thousands of US citizens are found guilty of human smuggling; in fiscal 2021, they made up three-quarters of the total number convicted of the crime in federal courts. Among the defendants are teenage boys with newly issued driver’s licenses, young moms who make the trips with their kids in the car and a striking number of homeless men.

On today’s episode, Julia Love describes how a shadow economy has sprung up along the border to smuggle immigrants through highway checkpoints. Her feature for Bloomberg Businessweek tells the story of Texan named Dennis Wilson, who was recruited by a smuggling operation. Wilson also joins to talk about his experience — and what happened when he got caught.

Read Julia’s feature: The Coyotes Working the US Side of the Border Are Often Highly Vulnerable, Too

This podcast is produced by the Big Take Podcast team: Supervising Producer: Vicki Vergolina, Senior Producer: Kathryn Fink, Producers: Mo Barrow, Rebecca Chaisson, Michael Falero and Federica Romaniello, Associate Producers: Sam Gebauer and Zaynab Siddiqui. Sound Design/Engineers: Raphael Amsili and Gilda Garcia.

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