Border Patrol: $10 M Plus Drug Busts Now a Weekly Event in South Texas

According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CPB), $14.4 million worth of marijuana was recently seized in the south Texas area during the last week of March. In addition, agents saved the lives of four individuals last who are believed to be victims of human trafficking. 

The rescued aliens were lost in the brush and in distress after being abandoned by smugglers, according to a CPB statement. Agents showed up on the scene in response to a 9-11 call. One of the immigrants received medical care at a Kingsville hospital--he has since been released, and all four are currently being processed by Border Patrol. 

Daniel Tirado, a spokesman for Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector, told Breitbart Texas, "Oftentimes, agents are reaching immigrants before they are exposed to dangers. A lot of the rescued individuals are removed from the country. But usually they're glad to be rescued. Stash house operators and smugglers often hold them hostage, abuse them, and rape the women. Many individuals dial 9-11 to be saved because they're being held against their will."

Tirado mentioned that Border Patrol has set up several "rescue beacons" near the border, where immigrants may go to receive help when they are in distress. Clean water is also provided at such locations. He said, "All you have to do is push a button, and agents will respond. Anybody who needs assistance can use the beacons, which have a blinking light so you can see it from a distance."

In addition to the rescue last week, a total 18,000 pounds of marijuana were confiscated between Sunday and Friday, according to Border Patrol public information officers.

On March 26, agents reportedly saw smugglers putting large bundles of marijuana into a van near the Rio Grande River. As officers approached the vehicle, the smugglers drove the vehicle to the river, where the driver jumped out and attempted to swim back to Mexico. According to the CPB, agents caught the man before he could flee the scene. 1,900 pounds of marijuana were subsequently discovered in the van. 

At the Falfurrias Checkpoint on March 27, agents seized 2,600 pounds of marijuana hidden inside a tractor-trailer--it was the largest seizure of the week, according to CPB. Responding to an initial K-9 alert, officers found the drugs hidden inside wooden crates on the vehicle. Later that day, almost 2,000 pounds of marijuana were found inside another vehicle.

Tirado said that an average 13,000 pounds of marijuana are confiscated in the area each week. "The sizes of busts vary," he said. 

Many of the larger seizures are made from commercial vehicles. But Tirado pointed out, "A lot of legitimate commercial traffic goes through checkpoints. Just because they're commercial doesn't mean that they're transporting narcotics." He said officers rely heavily on canines to detect the odor of drugs.  

Historically, the Rio Grande Valley has been riddled with illegal immigration and drug smuggling. Officials estimate that for every load of marijuana they catch, 10 get through Border Patrol, according to Arizona Central

In 2013, Breitbart Texas’ Managing Director Brandon Darby captured video near the Rio Grande Valley. The footage evidenced large areas of the border left unsecured. Darby walked with ease from the Rio Grande, through an unfinished "border fence," and into a U.S. neighborhood.

"The southeastern stretch of the Rio Grande river is where most of Texas' illegal immigration occurs. The area has many desolate regions and there simply aren't enough resources being applied to the issue," Darby reported. 

Nonetheless, officers have conducted less drug seizures in 2014 than last.

"We've actually seen a decrease in marijuana busts this year," Tirado said. "We're constantly working with local and state level enforcement agencies--we share information and intelligence. We manage our resources and work with what we have."

Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate


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