Border Patrol agents assigned to the El Paso Sector crawled into dangerous storm drains to capture illegal aliens using the system to evade detection.
Agents received a tip about five illegal aliens attempting to hide in the El Paso storm drain system to avoid capture after illegally crossing the border from Mexico. Officials notified the agency’s Confined Space Entry Team (CSET) to carry out a search, information obtained by Breitbart Texas from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) revealed. As the CSET members searched the storm drains, other Border Patrol agents carried out surface operations near exit points for the drainage system.
A Border Patrol Bike Patrol Team discovered three people shortly after they exited the system. An interview by the agents revealed that at least two people fell behind and remained in the drains. One of the illegal aliens, a woman, reportedly sustained an injury while hiking the drain.
Agents notified the El Paso Fire Department, who quickly responded to provide assistance to those remaining underground. Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) agents also got involved. An exhaustive search came up unsuccessful, officials stated.
The following morning, agents heard voices emerging from the system. They eventually located the man by tracking his voice. They removed the drain cover and successfully extracted the man. The suspected illegal alien said that his wife fell behind and that he believed she broke her ankle.
The agents re-entered the storm drain and eventually found the injured woman. One of the rescuers carried the woman out on his back. The agents arrested both of the illegal aliens and transported them to a local hospital for treatment.
The tactic of using storm drains to hide from Border Patrol agents is not new. In July 2014, Breitbart Texas’ Brandon Darby took an investigative news team to Laredo to check out reports of illegal aliens using the city’s storm drains to enter the country.
Following the visit to the Laredo storm drains, the team wrote:
Breitbart Texas reporters observed a soiled brown jacket, likely left behind by an immigrant or smuggler, sitting just yards from the entrance to one of these water drainage pipes. Border Patrol agents have identified these pipes as areas of unimpeded access for smugglers entering the city. Located just south of Laredo is Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican city overrun by the Zetas. The Zetas are a powerful drug cartel which law enforcement considers one of the most violent criminal organizations in Mexico.
According to Border Patrol agents who spoke with Breitbart Texas, as smugglers enter the country in this area they often travel through the open pipes, using them to cross several yards while evading capture. The smugglers come out at an area just south of a low-income residential area known as the Azteca neighborhood. Border Patrol recognizes the area as a hotbed for drug trafficking. On nights when fewer Border Patrol are on shift, around 30 traffickers may come through a given tunnel.
Border Patrol agents told Breitbart Texas that they have requested the assistance of their management and of city officials to help alleviate the situation or allow them go into the pipes; however, the only ones allowed into the area are members of the local fire department who do not respond unless first aid or rescue is immediately needed, according to the agents.
As far back as 2010, Border Patrol agents have been pulling illegal aliens from danger in the El Paso storm drains. On March 25, 2010, agents rescued a man left behind by his smuggler, CBP officials reported at the time. CSET agents entered the drains and had to crawl through hundreds of yards of stagnant water, toxic chemicals, and harmful insects. The agents recovered all 10 of the illegal aliens in the incident. After a quick medical evaluation, the agents repatriated them back to Mexico.