Five Charged With Smuggling Mexicans by Hiring Black Truck Drivers From L.A.

Prosecutors say the plotters believed non-Spanish-speaking African-Americans would arouse less suspicion from border authorities.

Posted: 02/03/2012 11:58 AM EST
Mexico, Los Angeles, crime, California, racial profiling, smuggling, immigration, illegal immigration, National News

Straight Outta Compton.

That was the hiring policy of a Los Angeles-based human smuggling operation, according to prosecutors. The ringleaders allegedly hired more than 20 non-Spanish-speaking African-Americans from L.A.’s Compton neighborhood to ferry undocumented immigrants from Mexico to California, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Their assumption, evidently, was that Black drivers would get a pass, since most of the smuggling is carried out by Latinos.

"There were two layers of exploitation here, one of the aliens in the trunks coming up to Los Angeles, and then of the drivers they used," federal prosecutor Rupa Goswami told the Times.


Five persons were charged with conspiracy and transporting and harboring illegal immigrants. Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

The smuggling enterprise brought dozens of immigrants a month into Los Angeles, authorities claim. Suspicion was aroused when the Border Patrol began to discover elaborately reconfigured vehicles carrying up to six people concealed in trunks and other compartments, including under the hood.

Did the smugglers worry about African-American drivers getting stopped because of racial profiling? In this case, apparently not, or not enough.

"It's absolutely true that most of the people involved in transporting human smuggling networks are Hispanics, by virtue of the fact that most customers are Hispanics," said Claude Arnold, a special agent for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "This organization thought, 'What if we recruited those who attract less attention from law enforcement?' Obviously they were wrong."

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(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)