Thirty House Republicans sent a letter on Friday to TikTok CEO Shouzi Chew urging the organization to crack down on cartels and gangs using the platform to recruit members and teenage Americans to help smuggle illegal immigrants across the southern border.
''We are deeply troubled by media reports that cartels are brazenly recruiting people to conduct smuggling and other illicit activity via TikTok,'' the letter said. ''The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) faces mounting challenges associated with stemming the flow of irregular migration into the country, and the recruitment and advertisement of smuggling activity on these platforms is exacerbating an increasingly untenable situation for frontline law enforcement personnel, as well as the vulnerable migrant populations being exploited, during a pandemic.''
The letter comes following reporting by Fox News in April that the cartels were advertising to American teenagers to get assistance driving illegal immigrants across the southern border for payment of $3,000.
According to the April 21 report, the cartels are placing ads like "Need 2 or 3 drivers to go through a checkpoint," or "Got another 6 left, already crossed. Lemme know ASAP for that easy cash," the news organization reported.
The report said that authorities estimate as many as 1,000 ''gotaways'' were able to get past Border Patrol agents every day and that there were 172,000 ''migrant encounters'' in March alone.
According to the report, the cartels would take children to one section of the border to distract overwhelmed agents so that adults could sneak past them at another location.
The recruited teens use their unaware parents' SUVs to smuggle the migrants.
A parent of one of the teens cried after getting a call from border agents alerting her to the business her daughter was running, the report said.
With Border Patrol agents so bogged down with the numbers flowing across the border, many of the teens involved get away with only a slap on the wrist, sources told Fox.
The cartels are also using the Chinese social media platform to stalk Border Patrol officers.
"It appears that via your platform cartel members are openly glorifying and normalizing illegal behavior and violence to recruit new members, most recently American teenagers," the letter said.
A spokesman for the platform responded to the report by saying such activities would violate its terms of service for users.
"TikTok strictly prohibits the promotion or facilitation of criminal activities, and we work with third-party intelligence firms to bolster identification of potential trafficking or smuggling and make reports to law enforcement as appropriate," the spokesman said in the report.
In the letter the company was asked to use its extensive data to end the problem.
"The level of data manipulation, curation and apparent corporate support for major users discussed in the article is startling," the letter said. "With such control, TikTok should be able to eradicate the cartel activities outlined above from the platform."
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