National AP News | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Smuggling Corruption

PHOENIX (AP) _ Investigators say smugglers need help getting
illegal immigrants across borders and in some cases, they're
getting it from on-the-surface legitimate businesses.

Authorities say a small number of car dealerships, motels,
travel agents and taxi drivers offer help and advice to smugglers
looking to get people into the U.S.

While they offer no hard numbers, officials say the biggest
concentration of such businesses is in Arizona, where immigrant
smuggling is believed to be a nearly 2 billion dollar-a-year
business.

Only a small number of businesses have been prosecuted, because
authorities have to prove they were aware they were breaking the
law.

In one success story, undercover agents posed as smugglers and
rented rooms at six motels in Mesa, Arizona, in 2005. The motel
operators were accused of coaching the agents on how to conceal
their illegal activities.


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