The U.S. Border Patrol has arrested eight men in connection with a migrant smuggling ring that guided its clients over the California-Mexico border using cell phones, instead of escorting them in person.

The tiny town of Jacumba sits in a valley on the U.S.-Mexico border across from La Rumorosa, Mexico, about 75 miles east of San Diego. Instead of relying on “coyotes” to guide the migrants on foot, this smuggling ring used cell phones and binoculars from their observation points on nearby mountaintops to direct migrants across the border, where they would be picked up in rental cars and driven to Los Angeles.

Border Patrol agents have detected this type smuggling rings more frequently as cell phone coverage expands to rural areas and the cost of such technology decreases.

A Homeland Security agent said that this was likely the first smuggling ring “uncovered that relied exclusively on cell phone technology.”

By arresting and pressuring the “chauffeurs” who drove the migrants to the city, who included high-school students and housewives, U.S. authorities gained information on a pair of cousins who allegedly directed the U.S. side of the operation. The eight men arrested face federal charges of conspiracy to smuggle aliens.

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