Border enforcement, organized crime, and deaths of smuggled migrants on the United States - Mexico border

Rob T. Guerette, Ronald V. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In response to ever increasing numbers of illegal immigrants entering the United States from Mexico, the United States adopted a border enforcement strategy in the 1990s that sought to bring the problem under control. This strategy relied primarily on increasing the number of Border Patrol agents directly on the border, the erection of walls at heavy traffic areas, and insertion of electronic surveillance systems. While these efforts succeeded in making it more difficult for illegal migrants to gain entry into the United States undetected, it also resulted in an increased reliance on human smugglers. Thus, the nature of the problem has shifted from one of illegal immigration to one of human smuggling. In an effort to gain entry successfully, smugglers have continued to lead migrants through hazardous terrain along the border where surveillance is less intense. Anecdotal evidence is presented which suggests that smugglers' drive for profit often results in the abandonment and death of migrants. Implications for future border policing strategy and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-174
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal on Criminal Policy and Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


  • Human smuggling
  • Illegal immigration
  • Migrant deaths
  • Migrant smuggling
  • Organized crime
  • Unauthorized immigration
  • Undocumented immigration


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