The government says it has arrested more than 200 smugglers operating along its 700km (435-mile) border with Sudan this year and has begun a massive awareness programme to inform the public about the dangers of making such perilous journeys.
It was spurred into action after 30 Ethiopian Christian migrants were killed in Libya by Islamic State militants in April.
More than 100 traffickers have been arrested in Metema, which also attracts migrants from neighbouring South Sudan and Somalia.
At one point more than 250 people were crossing the border into Sudan through Metema each day.
But after the police intensified patrols, smugglers were forced to seek alternative routes into Sudan, through heavily forested and mountainous areas.
"We are telling the smugglers that we are coming for them if they do not stop," the mayor said.
Death penalty proposal
The Ethiopian government has also proposed harsher punishments for people smugglers.
The justice ministry has presented parliament with a bill that could see convicted smugglers facing the death penalty.
It has also embarked on a massive awareness campaign to dissuade the young people from making that perilous journey across the deserts and the Mediterranean.
The government has already banned Ethiopians from going to Middle East to work as domestic workers in 2013 because of the abuse some have suffered there.
Officials believe it is having an impact on some.
Alemtsehay Gebreselassie, 26:
"I watched videos that show the dangers of illegal migration. I don't want to make such an attempt. I am much happier here despite life being tough"
Twenty-six-year-old Alemtsehay Gebreselassie, who runs a cafe in a village next to Metema, said that after listening to some of the warnings, she decided to stay put.
"I watched videos and TV programmes that show the dangers of illegal migration - and the house maids splashed with boiling water and thrown out from buildings [in the Middle East]," she said.
"I don't want to make such an attempt. I am much happier here despite life being tough."
But many Ethiopians are still living in extreme poverty in towns like Metema, and some I spoke to - who did not want to be named because of the crackdown - are still prepared to risk everything for a better life elsewhere.