HomeNewsBriefMexican Traffickers Recruit 'Drug Mules' With Newspaper Ads
BRIEF

Mexican Traffickers Recruit 'Drug Mules' With Newspaper Ads

MEXICO / 12 APR 2012 BY TATIANA FARAMARZI EN

Mexico’s drug trafficking gangs are increasingly using newspaper ads to recruit couriers unaware of their cargo, a tactic that is both inexpensive for criminal groups and difficult for authorities to counter.

As the Associated Press reports, drug traffickers have been advertising jobs for security guards, housecleaners, and cashiers in the classified ads of Mexican papers, mentioning that applicants will need to drive company cars to the United States and therefore must be able to legally cross the border.

Border officials say they have reason to believe the trend is on the rise, primarily in the San Diego area. Since February 2011, 39 people who claimed to have fallen for the misleading ads have been arrested at the city's two border checkpoints. In total, police have seized 3,400 pounds of marijuana, 75 pounds of cocaine, and 100 pounds of methamphetamine from individuals tied to the scam. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a counterstrike against the technique this week, purchasing ads (pictured) in Tijuana newspapers to alert job-seekers to the trap. However, Victor Clark of Tijuana's Binational Center for Human Rights tells the AP that the measure may not work, as the ICE ads offer no instruction on how to identify legitimate companies.

InSight Crime Analysis

For the same reasons that it is effective, recruitment through newspaper advertisements will be difficult for authorities to crack down on: the mule ads are difficult to differentiate from true job ads, and offer an income generating activity that is seemingly legitimate.

As InSight Crime reported, the lack of employment opportunities in Mexico has only enhanced criminal organizations’ role as job suppliers. The classified advertisement technique means that criminal groups can now target even those who are looking for honest jobs.

According to the Associated Press, the hired drivers often make between $50 and $200 per trip, incurring little cost to drug traffickers who pay experienced couriers anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000 each trip. The fact that many of the recruited employees are unaware that they are transporting drugs offers another advantage for criminal groups, because the couriers appear less worried as they pass through border inspection.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HOMICIDES / 23 SEP 2021

A package bomb that killed a restaurateur and his manager underscores the escalating use of explosives – and the terror…

ELITES AND CRIME / 18 JAN 2023

The US trial of Genaro García Luna, the architect of Mexico's war on drugs, will seek to prove whether he…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 17 JAN 2022

Reported kidnappings have decreased significantly in Mexico, but in recent years, at least one out of every 10 kidnapping victims…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…