How Border Patrol is Using Wanted Posters to Stop Smugglers

To help curb human trafficking, billboards in South Texas now show smugglers’ mugshots.

By Alain StephensJune 24, 2016 11:26 am|

The number of migrants crossing the Rio Grande into Texas has been on the upswing again this summer. Many of those individuals pay smugglers, or coyotes, thousands of dollars to help them navigate deadly terrain and avoid detection.

Now, the Border Patrol in Texas is trying a new tactic to catch these smugglers – by using wanted posters. The new approach may seem a bit old fashioned, but it’s worked in other states and officials think it could work here too.

Doyle Amidon Jr., Patrol Agent in Charge at the Falfurrias Border Patrol station, says each sign has photos of the top 10 most wanted smugglers in the sector.

“The way that we came up with the targets is based upon information on how often they’re smuggling – or maybe they’ve been caught smuggling before,” Amidon says.

When a coyote is apprehended, they replace their billboard photo with a new suspect. Amidon says they have caught three so far.

“We’ll put an X on their face for seven days, and that lets the public know that the information they’re giving us is working,” he says. “Then theres a line of folks behind them, and we’ll replace the face with the next target and the cycle continues.”

Amidon says it takes a community effort to help catch the smugglers, but so far, people seem to be participating in the initiative.

“We’re really calling upon folks’ sense of duty, honor and country to make these reports,” Amidon says. “Nobody wants criminal activity in their area, so we’ve seen that we’re getting lots of support for the program overall, and we’re getting lots of calls for information.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.

Production help by Anna Casey.

Web post by Alexandra Hart.