By Josh Meyer
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mexican drug cartels and their vast network of associates have branched out from their traditional business of narcotics trafficking and are now playing a central role in the multibillion-dollar-a-year business of illegal-immigrant smuggling, U.S. law-enforcement officials and other experts say.
The business of smuggling humans across the Mexico border has always been brisk, with many thousands coming across every year. But smugglers affiliated with the drug cartels have taken the enterprise to a new level -- and made it more violent -- by commandeering much of the operation from beginning to end from independent "coyotes," according to these officials and recent congressional testimony.
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