Human trafficking is big business – one that generates around $5 billion a year just for migrants who come from Mexico to the United States. As of 2005, it’s estimated that upwards of 350,000 illegal immigrants are smuggled across the United States’ border each year.

Past human smuggling

Sunday’s tragedy is the deadliest case of suspected human smuggling since 2003 when 19 immigrants died inside a big rig that was stopped in Victoria, Texas, in 2003. In that case, they were being taken from south Texas to Houston.

Just last October in Verecruz, four migrants suffocated in a truck carrying 55 people. And last December, 110 migrants were trapped in a truck after it crashed in Veracrus.

How human smuggling works

Migrants pay people called coyotajes to take them across the border. The fees are typically collected once the migrants arrive at their destination. Because of increased security at the U.S.-Mexico border, the demand for coyotajes has risen. Large coyotajes operations can transport up to 500 migrants into the U.S. in a day. Human smuggling generates more than $5 billion per year.

Migrants smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico pay around $2,000, while those further south of Mexico can pay as much as $10,000.

If you suspect human smuggling, you're asked to call ICE at 1-866-DHS-2ICE