U.S. Crackdown On Human Trafficking Leads To 192 Arrests, Seizure Of Over $625,000 In Illicit Profits

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U.S. Crackdown On Human Trafficking Leads To 192 Arrests, Seizure Of Over $625,000 In Illicit Profits
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson leaves at the conclusion of a press conference discussing ongoing enforcement efforts to combat human smuggling along the Southwest border of the United States, July 22, 2014 at Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) headquarters in Washington, DC. Human smugglers charge upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 per sperson for aliens smuggled from Central or South America. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson (R) participates in a press conference discussing ongoing enforcement efforts to combat human smuggling along the Southwest border of the United States, July 22, 2014 at Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) headquarters in Washington, DC. Human smugglers charge upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 per sperson for aliens smuggled from Central or South America. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 10: (L-R) U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and State Department counselor Thomas Shannon testifiy before the Senate Appropriations Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. Johnson and officials from the Obama Administration are asking Congress to approve and emergency supplemental request of $3.7 billion to help with the sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied children who are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson (R) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Winkowski (L) participate in a news conference on human smuggling along the southwest border July 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. Secretary Johnson spoke on Operation Coyote, a 90-day surge operation which is currently conducted in the Texas Rio Grande Valley to target human smuggling operations. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 10: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson (C) prepares to testifiy before the Senate Appropriations Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Obama Administration officials are asking Congress to approve and emergency supplemental request of $3.7 billion to help with the sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied children who are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson (2nd L), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Winkowski (L), and Deputy Attorney General James Cole (R) participate in a news conference on human smuggling along the southwest border July 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. Secretary Johnson spoke on Operation Coyote, a 90-day surge operation which is currently conducted in the Texas Rio Grande Valley to target human smuggling operations. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 17: Immigration reform protesters gather in front of the White House on July 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. The protest was organized by Amnesty International to push the message 'Don't Send Unaccompanied Migrant Children Back.' Amnesty International and the protestors want to demand that President Obama protect the rights of unaccompanied migrant children, some as young as five years old, who are crossing the southwest border of the United States. Reportedly these children are fleeing organized crime, gang violence and insecurity from many Central American countries. Reports also state that many of these children are survivors of sexual violence and at higher risk of kidnapping, trafficking and other serious human rights abuses. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 17: Immigration reform protesters gather in front of the White House on July 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. The protest was organized by Amnesty International to push the message 'Don't Send Unaccompanied Migrant Children Back.' Amnesty International and the protestors want to demand that President Obama protect the rights of unaccompanied migrant children, some as young as five years old, who are crossing the southwest border of the United States. Reportedly these children are fleeing organized crime, gang violence and insecurity from many Central American countries. Reports also state that many of these children are survivors of sexual violence and at higher risk of kidnapping, trafficking and other serious human rights abuses. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 14: Chole Flower attends the UNODC's 1st World Day Against Human Trafficking launch event at United Nations on July 14, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 17: Immigration reform protesters gather in front of the White House on July 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. The protest was organized by Amnesty International to push the message 'Don't Send Unaccompanied Migrant Children Back.' Amnesty International and the protestors want to demand that President Obama protect the rights of unaccompanied migrant children, some as young as five years old, who are crossing the southwest border of the United States. Reportedly these children are fleeing organized crime, gang violence and insecurity from many Central American countries. Reports also state that many of these children are survivors of sexual violence and at higher risk of kidnapping, trafficking and other serious human rights abuses. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, July 22 (Reuters) - U.S. officials have made almost 200 arrests and seized more than $625,000 in illicit profits in a month-long crackdown on human smuggling in response to an influx of illegal immigration into Texas, the Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the campaign underscored the government's pledge that U.S. borders were not open to illegal immigration "and that if you enter the United States illegally, we will send you back."

"Equally important, those who prey upon migrants for financial gain will be targeted, arrested and prosecuted," he added in a statement.

"We are focusing on the pocketbooks of these human smugglers, including their money laundering activities in the United States - working with our Mexican and Central American partners to track, interdict, and seize the money flowing through Mexico and Central America."

Johnson said the government sent extra personnel to Texas' Rio Grande Valley in late June to combat human smuggling operations on the southwest U.S. border.

"Less than a month into this operation, 192 smugglers and their associates have already been arrested on criminal charges, more than 501 undocumented immigrants have been taken into custody and more than $625,000 in illicit profits have been seized from 288 bank accounts held by human smuggling and drug trafficking organizations," the secretary said.

Immigration enforcement authorities, it said, "will continue to prioritize cases involving smuggling or transporting of undocumented individuals, including minors, into the United States."

The Obama administration has been seeking to deal with a surge of undocumented children across the southern border.

During the nine months ending June 30, more than 57,000 children were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, most from Central America, and double last year's count, according to U.S. government data.

President Barack Obama meets the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador on Friday to discuss cooperation in dealing with the flow of child migrants. (Reporting by Peter Cooney; Editing by Ron Popeski)
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