“Joined at the Hip: Organized Crime and Illegal Immigration” is the title of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s (TPPF) latest study that explains how both transnational gangs and transnational criminal organizations are involved in the massive waves of illegal immigration currently coming across America’s southern border.

Authored by TPPF senior fellow in border security Josh Jones, a former 18-year veteran prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, the new study documents how hundreds of thousands of Central Americans seeking to escape from transnational gang (TG) controlled territories are then spurred into transnational criminal organization (TCO) controlled territories as they make their way northward to the U.S. border.

“From motivating the decision to migrate to controlling the smuggling routes, criminal organizations are an inextricable part of the current equation of illegal immigration across our southwestern border,” said Jones, who most recently served on the U.S. Attorney General’s Task Force Vulcan created to eliminate the threat of the MS-13 gang in the United States.

As “Joined at the Hip” documents, most organized crime along smuggling routes to the U.S. resembles that of a governing authority: criminal organizations control swaths of territory, regulate which routes can be used and when, and tax the smugglers and migrants who want to use them. Incentivizing illegal immigration, therefore, invariably lines the pockets of organized crime and creates thousands of new victims of human traffickers, due to debts incurred for the passage.

Jones said countermeasures to stop this cycle of lawlessness include bolstering border security, reforming existing laws to de-incentivize illegal crossings and improving the criminal justice systems and economies of Northern Triangle countries. The complete study “Joined at the Hip: Organized Crime and Illegal Immigration” can be seen here.