TUCSON, AZ - Officers have arrested a record number of people who've strapped drugs to their bodies and tried to walk through our ports of entry, according to U. S. Customs and Border Protection agents based in Tucson. And those "body carriers," as they're called, are getting younger and younger.
Between October 2010 and May 2011, officers arrested 295 body carriers, 96 of them, or nearly a third, have been children.
One of the youngest caught this year was a 13-year-old boy.
"They may think that because they're minors, at age 18 their record may erase and there will be a clean slate, but that's not the case," said Chris Leon, of U. S. Customs and Border Protection. "The fact that you're bringing drugs across the border is a serious charge that will have long-term effects."
Leon said these kids are paid anywhere from $50 to $3,000. More than 60 percent of the boys and girls arrested for running drugs across the Arizona-Mexico border are U.S. citizens and could face jail time.
"If you're in high school, you're not going to finish, you'll spend your last two or three years in jail possibly. And if not, if you're a Mexican national, you're going to be removed from the country. You're going to lose your documents," said Leon.
With several months left in this fiscal year, Customs and Border Protection said the number of juvenile body carriers arrested is already double the total number from last year.
As for why smuggling organizations are increasingly targeting children, Leon said they have been squeezed in recent years and have been forced to get creative with their tactics.
|Liveleak on Facebook|