The Denver Post‘s four-day series on the border finished with another look at the San Diego-Tijuana area. The Post examines the reenergized push to smuggle immigrants across at San Ysidro — as other border zones are move heavily fortified.

The story is worth a read. It says:

Call it boutique smuggling: personalized service and a price to match.

The border separating Tijuana from San Diego is patchwork urban landscape — high-end malls and expensive houses on the U.S. side, enormous factories and ramshackle neighborhoods across the line in Mexico. Before 1996, this was the busiest crossing point on the border. Daily, thousands of immigrants sprinted across the relatively unprotected line and melted into the bustle of the American city.

After officials put up 14 miles of double fencing, the smugglers are still here, but they are fewer, less visible and more sophisticated, according to Victor Clark, a Tijuana sociologist who has spent more than 20 years studying Mexico’s coyotes.

And they’ve shifted their efforts from the heavily guarded frontier to the area’s hectic ports of entry, including San Ysidro, the busiest on the border.

“They cross people encased in vehicles or with stolen documents,” Clark said. “They’re very specialized, but the prices here have as risen as well.”

He said these high-end smugglers fetch as much as $7,000 a person, about three times the normal rate. …

Clark and others say the evolution of the smuggling trade near San Diego – what’s now considered one of the most secure areas of the border – offers a window into the future. As the U.S. applies tougher measures at the border, some smugglers will go out of business. Those who remain, however, will be sophisticated gangs able to exploit new vulnerabilities.

ROB DAVIS

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