GOLIAD, Texas—Federal immigration officials have long said that every illegal immigrant who crosses the U.S. southern border has to pay the Mexican cartel in control of that area of the border, known as a “plaza.”
Fees vary depending on the nationality of the border crosser and what type of “service” they’re paying for. It’s cheaper for those who want to cross and then turn themselves over to Border Patrol, although it’s still pricier for foreign nationals traveling from farther afield such as China, Africa, or the Middle East.
For the individuals who want to avoid Border Patrol and get smuggled to their destination city in the United States, it costs more and involves more complicated logistics.
A recent Justice Department indictment of four Guatemalan smugglers revealed that the organization charged people between $10,000 and $12,000 to be brought from Guatemala to the United States illegally. Several Chinese illegal aliens have previously told The Epoch Times they paid $15,000 to get into the country.
These aliens, who evade Border Patrol, are recorded as “gotaways” if agents or cameras detect their presence.
So far this fiscal year, Border Patrol agents have recorded more than 800,000 known gotaways, according to former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan and several Customs and Border Protection sources.
The gotaways often end up indentured to the cartel and spend years paying off their debt—no matter what they were promised at the outset, according to Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd.
“I actually have a letter from a sex slave house out of Rockport [Texas] from a search warrant I ran some years ago, that articulates it,” Boyd told The Epoch Times on June 23.
“It takes 8 to 13 years to buy your freedom once you come into the United States.”
Boyd said Houston is the first major destination for many illegal aliens once they get across the border into Texas.
“Once they get to Houston, where they think they’re going to be shipped out to their families, they’re not,” he said.