With ports of entry along the US-Mexico border largely closed to non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexican drug cartels have turned to more creative ways to smuggle illegal contraband to United States.
One of those ways has been the increased use of social media platforms like Facebook to advertise money mail jobs for money services businesses, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A Facebook ad spotted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) looked for people capable of transporting money from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez. Recruiters will request an “interview” with job seekers in Ciudad Juarez.
In reality, cartel members will be hiding narcotics in the job seeker’s vehicle during the interview. The unsuspecting individual will then be tasked with crossing one of El Paso’s ports of entry. Once in the United States, they must call the recruiter to collect the vehicle.
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Mexican authorities on Thursday said they had arrested four other suspects in weekend shootings in Reynosa, a northern Mexican border town, that killed 19 people, 15 of whom appeared to be innocent bystanders.
Another suspect was arrested earlier after he was injured in seemingly random weapon attacks on Saturday.
Mexico recorded nearly 3,000 homicides in May, more than in the same month last year and well above the numbers that prevailed when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December 2018.
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The government says homicides fell 2.9% in the first five months of 2021, compared to 2020, but that may be because those months were marked by the worst wave of coronavirus in Mexico, when public activities have been reduced.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.