What It Costs to Smuggle Someone into the U.S.

Breakdown of costs paid to smugglers to get someone into the U.S. illegally

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    A U.S. Office of Air and Marine (OAM) helicopter takes off to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border on October 1, 2013 in San Diego, California. OAM helicopters support U.S. Border Patrol as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), personnel protecting border areas. While much of the Federal Government has closed down, personnel considered essential, such as border agents, remain working. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    Migration experts and smugglers who charge from $5,000 to $10,000 to move Central Americans to the U.S. say these are the payments that must be made to get their human cargo to its destination:

    • Boatmen at Mexico's southern border: $1.50 to cross Suchiate River from Guatemala.
    • Lodging: $11.50 a room, which can hold many migrants.
    • Central American gang: At least $100 per migrant to board Mexican freight train known as "La Bestia" The Beast).
    • Mexican police and immigration officials: $230 to $540 to pass; $25 to $40 a person to free detained migrant.
    • Drug cartels: $250 to $300 for Mexican migrant, $500 to $700 for Central American, about $1,500 for someone from Europe or Asia, plus 10 percent flat fee per smuggler to cross northern Mexico to U.S. border.
    • Boatmen at Mexico's northern border: $100 per immigrant to cross Rio Grande into U.S.
    • Drivers: $150 for ride from Rio Grande to stash house; $200 for ride north of Border Patrol's highway checkpoint to Houston.
    • Caretaker at stash house: $20 per person per day.