Immigrants Smugglers Helped By Businesses

Wednesday, November 21st 2007, 6:56 pm
By: News On 6

PHOENIX (AP) -- Investigators say smugglers need help getting illegal immigrants across borders and in some cases, they're getting it from on-the-surface legitimate businesses.

Authorities say a small number of car dealerships, motels, travel agents and taxi drivers offer help and advice to smugglers looking to get people into the U.S.

While they offer no hard numbers, officials say the biggest concentration of such businesses is in Arizona, where immigrant smuggling is believed to be a nearly 2 billion dollar-a-year business.

Only a small number of businesses have been prosecuted, because authorities have to prove they were aware they were breaking the law.

In one success story, undercover agents posed as smugglers and rented rooms at six motels in Mesa, Arizona, in 2005. The motel operators were accused of coaching the agents on how to conceal their illegal activities.