Preying On Human Cargo

By Michael Maiello and Susan Kitchens, Forbes, June 7, 2004

The millions of illegal aliens working in the U.S. don't just happen into jobs. Middlemen make it their very lucrative business to put them there.

By the Numbers:

  • $7 billion - What human smugglers around the world pull in every year.
    10,000 - The annual number of people from China's Fujian province who move to New York City illegally.
  • $1 million - The per-month take in bribes by a border patrol agent at the San Ysidro port in San Diego, for helping 1,000 illegals sneak into the United States.
  • 4% - The fraction of illegal aliens apprehended crossing into Texas and prosecuted.
  • $9,000 - What a coyote can earn in 2 days leading 15 people.

...A federal indictment for trafficking in illegal migrants still stands against Petr Pospisil, a Czech-born illegal immigrant who ran a job-placement ring for mostly other eastern Europeans, and showed monthly profits of $100,000. Then there is Cheng Chui Ping, known as Sister Ping, who is cooling her heels in a cell in Brooklyn, New York and facing charges of smuggling illegal migrants into the U.S. Sister Ping is believed to have earned more than $30 million over 15 years of shuttling thousands of people from her native Fujian province in southern China to the promised land,...

Hispanics have a well-worn path into the U.S.--so-called coyotes conduct them across the border, a $500 million-a-year business--and rely on other intermediaries once they're in the States to find housing and jobs...

Some 25,000 people make the trip by boat to the U.S. from Fujian province every year, each illegal paying an average $60,000 for the illicit transit, says Ko-Lin Chin, a criminal justice professor at Rutgers University...