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Profile of Smugglers

Smugglers' profiles also vary considerably according to region and motivation, though they may originate from all social and economic backgrounds. Indeed, the profits associated with migrant smuggling are no less appealing to the wealthy than they are to the poor. The latter often operate not with the purpose of obtaining substantial material gain but rather to increase their limited income and, in some cases, facilitate their own travel to the desired destination (for example, a person may steer a migrant smuggling vessel in exchange for not being charged the travel fee). 'Professional' smugglers, even if not religious, may resort to religion and cultural beliefs to keep control over migrants and ensure the payment of fees. Violence to the same end is not uncommon.

The following figure provides a general and indicative overview of the profile of smugglers based on UNODC's Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants .

Figure 2: Smugglers - The organization of migrant smuggling

Source: UNODC , Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants, 2018, p. 8
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