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Title 42’s end could mean big payday for Mexican cartels, according to experts

Mexican cartels could see a significant payout from the end of Title 42, as smuggling drugs and migrants into the country may increase. 

“The end of Title 42 will add a huge revenue opportunity for the cartels,” retired DEA agent Derek Maltz told Fox News senior national correspondent Rich Edson. “It’s going to increase the deadly supply of fentanyl and this tsunami of these lethal substances that are entering the country daily.”

“They’re just going to take advantage of the volume of distractions to our brave men and women on the front lines, and they’re just going to continue to move highvalue targets into America,” Maltz added. “They’ll move all the cash coming back south into the country. They’ll keep bringing guns into Mexico from the United States.”

The Biden administration plans to lift Title 42 on Wednesday, ending a border policy enacted under former President Trump that allows for the deportation of the vast majority of migrants amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked an order that would lift Title 42, as 19 states had asked the high court for an emergency stay that would keep the policy in place. 

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Republicans have warned for months that ending the policy would only worsen the crisis at the border. The U.S. Border Patrol had a record 230,000 encounters with migrants in October alone, breaking the previous record set in September.

Former Vice President Mike Pence told America’s Newsroom that when he stood at the border, he could see cartel lookout nests “100 yards across the border,” and that the cartels “literally decide who comes in.” 

The cartels have increasingly used more sophisticated methods to smuggle drugs across the border, including drones and planes to get the material past authorities, according to Maltz. 

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“The cartels have a stronghold on these different corridors along the border, and they’ve been operating for years,” Maltz explained. “They build tunnels that are very sophisticated. They use every means of transportation.”

“They have state-of-the-art compartments in their vehicles, tractor-trailers and produce,” Maltz continued. “They use rail cars. They use flights. They use ultra flights, planes. They have access to everything at their southern border.” 

Texas law enforcement said agents expect an increase in fentanyl across the border. The DEA announced Tuesday that it had seized over 379 million doses of fentanyl in 2022, including fake pill prescriptions and 10,000 pounds of powdered fentanyl.

However, congressional aides indicated that the number of migrants crossing the border might double to around 15,000 a day, presenting a more daunting task for border authorities to handle. 

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“What we are facing on the U.S. southern border is more than a crisis it’s a catastrophe, and it’s about to get worse,” Joseph Humire, executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society, told Fox News Digital. “Removing Title 42 sends the wrong message and creates perverse incentives for Mexican cartels and their human smuggling facilitators eager to maximize profits.”

“On average, human smuggling operations generate profits as high as $150 million per facilitator, and, according to SOUTHCOM, in 2020, at least 66 were arrested in Latin America,” Humire added. “That’s almost $10 billion in illicit profits. I myself, saw firsthand how cartels are controlling the border during a fact-finding trip to Matamoros, Mexico in August where a cartel was positioned on the border observing the cross-border traffic and surveilling tourists and migrants as they crossed.”

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco raised concerns over the potentially increased rate of smuggling, noting that the border authorities currently use “counter-threat teams” to combat the smuggling – something usually reserved to handle national security threats. 

“We’re using intelligence, we’re using cyber means, we’re using data to map the network and attack it at all points along the supply chain,” Monaco told “CBS Evening News.”

The State Department and National Security Council did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment by the time of publication. 

Fox News Digital’s Anders Hagstrom and Bradford Betz contributed to this report. 

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