FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday said cartel activity spurred by the crisis at the southern border is “extremely concerning.”
The top law enforcement official spoke at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee when Rep. Tom McClintock, a California Republican, expressed concerns about the flood of migrants and upticks in criminal arrests at the United States-Mexico border.
“There’s no question that the cartel activity on the other side of the border is spilling over in all sorts of ways, and you just put your finger on one that’s extremely concerning to us all,” Wray said in response to the Republican’s question about indentured servitude associated with criminal gangs.
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“Different cartels have different affiliations with gangs here in the United States,” the FBI director added. “There’s not just human trafficking from a labor perspective, but also sex trafficking.”
Wray, who referred to the issue as a “significant security concern,” said the bureau has several specialized units to curb human smuggling.
“We have a number of human trafficking task forces as well as working on certain task forces with [Department of Homeland Security] to try to address that issue,” he said.
President Joe Biden’s administration has faced renewed criticism over its handling of the crisis at the border after authorities reported over 180,000 attempted illegal crossings for the month of May, a number that dwarfed previous estimates. The May total, recording those who tried to get into the U.S. by sneaking in between land crossings or were denied entry at border checkpoints, was up from 178,622 in April and 172,331 in March.
Roughly 8,000 of the 180,034 people whom border authorities encountered were denied entry at a port of entry, while the remainder went across the border through unfenced areas. Since fiscal year 2021 began in October 2020, a total of 929,868 people have been encountered unlawfully trying to enter the U.S. from Mexico, more than the 459,000 in all of the previous year.
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Border Patrol sectors have also noted precipitous increases in the arrests of criminal migrants. Last Thursday, Laredo Border Patrol in Texas reported an increase of more than 1,200% as a total of 760 criminal migrants have been brought into custody, compared to 60 who were arrested over the same time period last year.
Similarly, Del Rio, Texas, authorities disclosed a 3,166% uptick in the apprehension of migrants with convictions for sex crimes in the last month of May. A total of 95 suspected illegal crossers who were previously found guilty of sexual offenses were nabbed in the sector.
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