(News Nation) – Texas officials earlier this week arrested six undocumented migrants who attempted to charter a plane from Weslaco, Texas, to Houston in the Rio Grande Valley as part of a human trafficking operation.
Immigrants from El Salvador and Mexico, four men and two women, were caught with fraudulent Texas ID cards at a Mid-Valley airport and turned over to the United States Border Patrol.
One of the men was later determined to be a delinquent criminal wanted in Wisconsin on charges of sexually assaulting a child.
Officers arrested a 21-year-old woman, a US citizen, who was coordinating a smuggling effort in Houston. Two others were also arrested on suspicion of aiding in the effort and are now facing federal charges.
Texas Department of Public Safety officials say it is the third time in the past 30 days that state officials have intercepted planes attempting to smuggle undocumented migrants into the country.
Last week, officials smuggling flight stopped Carrying 19 illegal immigrants in McAllen, Texas.
In some cases, they are paying thousands of dollars for a seat on an expatriate plane, Lieutenant Chris Oliverez with Texas DPS told NewsNation.
In August, one of the migrants caught on a smuggling flight told authorities that he paid $11,000 to fly from the Dominican Republic to Houston.
Oliverez said flights – which often land at smaller municipal airports – can be challenging to track and are becoming more common.
The problem is further complicated by the fact that pilots flying charter planes may be unaware that they are carrying illegal immigrants, Oliverez said. He explained that most are given a traveler list with only the name and they are not required to verify one’s immigration status.
This week’s plane bust is the latest evidence that human trafficking takes many forms.
As the number of immigrants attempting to enter the US reaches record highs, the methods of trafficking people into the country have become increasingly desperate and inhumane.
In June, 53 migrants were killed as part of a human trafficking operation that officials believe was abandoned in a rampaging semicircle.
For the first time, the total number of migrant encounters on the southern border has exceeded 2 million in a financial year, According to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP),