With ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border largely closed to non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexican drug cartels have turned to more creative ways to smuggle illegal contraband into the United States.
One of those ways has been the increased use of social media platforms like Facebook to advertise money courier jobs for money service businesses, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
One Facebook ad spotted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was seeking individuals who could transport money from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez. Recruiters will request an “interview” with the job seekers in Ciudad Juarez.
In actuality, cartel members will conceal narcotics in the job seeker’s vehicle during the interview. The unsuspecting individual will then be instructed to cross through one of the El Paso ports of entry. Once in the U.S., they must call the recruiter to pick up the vehicle.
Mexican authorities said Thursday they have arrested four more suspects in weekend shootings in the northern Mexico border city of Reynosa that killed 19 people – 15 of whom appeared to be innocent bystanders.
Another suspect was detained earlier after being wounded during the apparently random gun attacks Saturday.
Mexico recorded nearly 3,000 homicides in May – higher than the same month last year, and well above the numbers that prevailed when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December 2018.
The government says homicides declined 2.9% in the first five months of 2021, compared to 2020, but that may be because those months were marked by Mexico’s worst coronavirus wave, when public activities were curtailed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.