Human smuggling is a growing problem in Southern Arizona with the age of the drivers as young as 13-years-old.
The Cochise County Sheriffs Department said issues at the border have become a public safety and humanitarian issue for their community.
How often do you see that, people on the side of the road? I asked Sheriff Mark Dannels during a ride-along.
More than none, he answered.
Its an average day for him patrolling the streets of Cochise County seeing two migrants on the side of the road.
Youre looking at $2,500 a person from my county to Maricopa County- to drive. Thats per person. So, get 3 or 4, see how lucrative that is to a young mind, said Sheriff Dannels.
Drivers ages can be anywhere from their 70s to as young as 13 with social media being the latest way to target teens online.
We know social media is the main platform to recruit, especially our young juveniles all the way to our adults, we know that, said Sheriff Dannels.
This is a real example from the Sheriff showing KGUN 9 snapchats with offers to earn quick cash promising the drivers a safe route.
Sheriff Dannels said the posts are made by cartels with many young people biting the bait.
We have a 16-year-old in my jail right now for murder, he said.
One incident that crosses his mind
A 16-year-old kid, a smuggler driver, fled from a deputy. The speeds were so reckless, he disengaged because of community risk. 30 miles later, he went through a red light at deadly speeds, and killed her, Sheriff Dannels said.
He killed a mom that was going to her birthday party.
It usually starts off like this: driving too slow or too fast.
Thats the way these cars pull in, boom boom, out of there, said Sheriff Dannels.
Last year, out of more that 1,300 human smuggling incidents in Cochise County, 89 of those drivers were younger than 18-years-old.
Ive seen the good, the bad and the ugly and this is the ugliest and this is defined by the magnitude of the problem were seeing, he said.
Its every time he opens up a trunk, theres the anticipation that someones inside.
Theyre treating people like cargo, theres something wrong with that.
The tragedies we see, I mean, 7-year-olds stuck in the back of a car, the car is going 100 and something miles an hour, shes crying, come see that a couple of times, Sheriff Dannels said.
Is it hard to pull over someone for human smuggling and you see how young they are? I asked.
Its tough, its tough to watch these young people lives changed over one bad decision, it is. And if I can stop that before they can even pick up, I will, he answered.