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Texas Sheriff-Elect Now Faces Daunting Challenge of Illegal Immigrant Deaths

A new sheriff has been elected in South Texas’ Brooks County, a county known for its high number of illegal immigrant deaths. The new sheriff-elect is now faced with tackling that issue with very limited financial resources and an ever increasing number is illegal immigrants moving through his county.

Voters in the Democrat Primary runoff election in Brooks County elected the current chief deputy, Urbino “Benny” Martinez to succeed the retiring Sheriff Rey Rodriguez. While the vote was small in number, 1,046 to 999, the impact on the county is huge. Martinez brings a vast resume of law enforcement experience to the job. The former Texas Department of Public Safety trooper has been fighting on the issue of the illegal immigrant deaths for several years.

Martinez does not have an opponent in the November General Election.

“I take this victory with a very humble heart,” Martinez told Breitbart Texas in a Tuesday night interview. “My whole staff kept me going through this long election process. We are a team and their support kept me focused on doing my job while also running for office.”

Brooks County Chief Deputy Benny Martinez approaches the body of a deceased woman found after being left behind to die in Brooks County. Border Patrol agents discovered the skeletal remains of what appeared to be a female illegal immigrant. (File Photo: Breitbart Texas/Bob Price)

Brooks County Chief Deputy Benny Martinez approaches the body of a deceased woman found after being left behind to die in Brooks County. Border Patrol agents discovered the skeletal remains of what appeared to be a female illegal immigrant. (File Photo: Breitbart Texas/Bob Price)

Martinez used the phrase “humble hear” multiple times during the interview. He seemed very grateful to the voters of Brooks County for giving him this opportunity but also was very cognizant of the task before him. “Brooks County is one of the poorest counties in Texas,” the sheriff-elect said. “That means I have to find creative ways of applying resources to not only protect our residents, but find ways to reduce the tragic deaths of those who are abandoned by human smugglers trying to avoid the federal Border Patrol checkpoint.”

“I am sure it will be a challenge,” Martinez said.

Despite the fact that Brooks County is located about 80 miles inland from the Texas/Mexico border, the county faces one of the largest illegal immigration migration in the state.

Breitbart Texas has reported extensively on the deaths of these illegal immigrants and on the efforts led by Martinez to reduce them. Just last week, three more bodies of illegal immigrants were discovered in what has become known as the “Brooks County Killing Fields.” The discovery of the three bodies raised the total number of discovered deaths for this year to 21. Hundreds of illegal immigrants have died while attempting to bypass the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint. The number peaked in 2012 when 129 bodies were discovered, officials reported. These numbers do not include the potentially hundreds of bodies that are never discovered because of the vast areas a ranch land in the county. Brooks County nearly the size of the state of Rhode Island, but is patrolled by a handful of deputies.

To deal with the need for more law enforcement presence in the county, while being handcuffed by a tiny budget, Martinez worked with Donna Independent School District Police Department’s Senior Sergeant Daniel Walden to create a program where certified law enforcement officers from other areas can serve as volunteer deputies in Brooks County at very little cost to the country. Walden formed an organization named the “Border Brotherhood of Texas” to organize the volunteer peace officers and raise money to help provide the supplemental deputies.

Brooks County

Volunteer deputies search suspect’s vehicle while assisting Brooks County deputies and Falfurrias police officers in a felony arrest. (File Photo: Breitbart Texas/Bob Price)

“We are very excited about Martinez’s election to be the next sheriff in Brooks County,” Walden told Breitbart Texas Tuesday night. “His election means we can move forward with growing the program of volunteers to help Brooks County. We have many people who are ready to sign up as deputies, but it costs money to certify and equip them. People were waiting on the election results before spending additional money.”

The volunteer organization accepts donations to help pay for uniforms, bullet-proof vests and official certification requirements. People wishing to make donations may contact the Walden via Facebook.

“The abuse of immigrants by human smugglers has been horrific,” Martinez said referring to a Breitbart Texas article by Ildefonso Ortiz about a 13-year-old girl who was left to die, without water for five days before she was eventually discovered along with her 15-year-old sister. The younger girl who was near death had to be airlifted to a Corpus Christi hospital for treatment.

Martinez has also obtained additional resources for the county by working with the State of Texas to secure the deployment of additional Texas Department of Public Safety troopers along with search and rescue teams from the Texas State Guard.

Texas State Guardsmen searching for deceased immigrants in Brooks County. Photo by Gil Estrada.

Texas State Guardsmen searching for deceased immigrants in Brooks County. Photo by Gil Estrada.

“Fortunately, because of the efforts of our deputies, the Border Patrol’s presence, help from the State of Texas with Texas Rangers, Department of Public Safety Troopers, and members of the Texas State Guard, the number of deaths this year is lower,” Martinez told Breitbart Texas in April in an interview about the impact of the Texas Border Surge’s impact on Brooks County.

Breitbart Texas spoke with staff members of the Brooks County Sheriff’s Department Wednesday morning. “We are very excited about the chief’s election as our new boss,” the staff person said speaking anonymously. “He has done so many great things for our department. It is good to see the effort pay off.”

Martinez told Breitbart Texas he plans to continue the volunteer deputy program as well as expand his working relationships with the State of Texas and U.S. Border Patrol to maximize resources available for the community’s safety. “We have done so much with so little, but we will continue to find ways to do more,” Martinez concluded.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.

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