Officials honored 31 U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Laredo Sector during a ceremony held Tuesday night in south Texas. The ceremony recognized acts of bravery and life-saving efforts of the agents in eight separate incidents.
Officials with U.S. Border Patrol, the National Border Patrol Council Local 2455, and the office of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) joined in a collaborative effort to shine the light on the selfless acts of bravery put forth by the 31 agents selected for recognition, information obtained by Breitbart Texas revealed.
Recognizing the men and women under his command, Laredo Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Robert L. Boatright said, “I am honored, and it is a privilege to serve with the men and woman of the United States Border Patrol as they help protect the United States, improve our homeland security and continue with the traditions of the United States Border Patrol. He quoted former President Teddy Roosevelt stating, “Far and away life’s greatest prize is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
“What these men and women do every day is clearly work worth doing,” Boatright stated.
NBPC Local 2455 President, Border Patrol Agent Hector Garza told Breitbart Texas the opportunity to recognize these agents came about during a border tour with Congressman Cuellar earlier in the year. They discussed actions by agents that went above and beyond simply guarding the border to stop illegal border crossings, drug smuggling and potential threats of terrorism.
“Our agents are here to serve the community as a whole,” Garza said. “Many times, Border Patrol agents risk their lives in search and rescue efforts. Whether it is finding someone lost in the ranch fields, assisting victims of car crashes, or rescuing immigrants abandoned by human smugglers, our agents are often the first on the scene and do whatever it takes to save lives.”
Congressman Cuellar told the agents he was proud of the extra effort carried out by the men and women serving along borders. He said he was impressed by agents willing to risk their lives to jump into a raging river to save those abandoned by ruthless human smuggling coyotes. He said it was clear the agents felt their jobs were not just about stopping people illegal crossing the border, drug smugglers and potential terrorists, but rather it is a dedication to service.
Officials recognized 31 individual agents for their actions in 8 separate incidents.
On December 17, Border Patrol Agents Colin Madrid, Like Summerlin, Cecil Daniel, and Martin Lara distinguished themselves after receiving a distress call from a ranch near Freer, Texas. The agents learned a hunter shot another hunter and the victim needed assistance. After notifying the Webb County Sheriff’s Office, the agents quickly traveled to the scene and discovered the victim who had been shot twice by another man.
Agents restrained the alleged shooter. Agent Madrid utilized his training as an emergency medical attention to control the wound to the victim’s lungs. After stabilizing the victim, the agents arranged transportation to a San Antonio hospital. The agents turned the suspected shooter over to Webb County deputies who made the arrest.
On January 18, 2017, Border Patrol Agents Lazaro Perez, Jr. and Jose Mendoza were patrolling the Rio Grande River near Laredo on a boat assigned to Air and Marine Operations. At the time, the river was near flood stage, and the agents faced temperatures in the mid-50s with a ten mile per hour wind creating serious windchill.
Early that morning, the agents observed a small object floating in the river. The agents recognized it as the “head of a lifeless body” floating in the river about 40 feet from the banks of the Rio Grande. The agents could only see the victims hair. As they moved closer to the drowning victim, the agents observed the man beginning to move his arms and determined him to be in “dire need of assistance,” the award citation stated.
Crew Member Mendoza immediately threw a life ring to the struggling immigrant who had been abandoned by human smugglers when he was unable to negotiate the heavy currents of the flood-stage river.
Vessel Commander Perez used his training to navigate the boat safely through quickly moving debris and pull alongside the victim who struggled to hold onto the life ring. Medoza eventually pulled the man into the boat and radioed for medical assistance for the man who had water in his lungs. Emergency medical teams arrived and transported the man to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment.
Support of Local Law Enforcement:
On December 27, 2016, Supervisory Border Patrol Agents Andres Sillas, Jr. and Jose A. Garza II, along with Agents Jose J. Dominguez, Javier Puente, Pedro A. Salinas, Ernesto Gonzalez, and Gustavo Ruiz distinguished themselves in actions supporting the Live Oak County Sheriff’s Office in their efforts to recover an armed escaped jail inmate. Jake Russell Childress escaped from the county jail on Christmas Eve. Deputies caught up with the escaped inmate near Campbellton, Texas on December 27. A gunfight broke out between Childress and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers. Childress then fled into the surrounding brush.
Border Patrol supervisors dispatched members of the elite Border Patrol Tactical Team (BORTAC). The agents quickly responded to the scene and began surrounding homes in the area in an attempt to contain Childress’ escape routes. After a DPS helicopter located Childress hiding in the brush agents moved in to attempt an apprehension. Childress again open fire on the BORTAC agents and fled further into the brush, the award citation stated. BORTAC agents established a perimeter to prevent his escape.
A DPS SWAT team arrived on the scene and attempted to negotiate a peaceful surrender with the suspect. Negotiations eventually broke down, and gunfire again erupted. Following the gun battle, SWAT team members determined Childress had been killed. SWAT and BORTAC team members received no injuries from the multiple gun battles.
“The actions displayed by Childress placed BORTAC operators in extreme danger,” officials wrote in the award citation. Their “actions and response to this active shooter situation is in keeping with the highest traditions of Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security. Their selfless advance toward the exchange in gunfire in support of their fellow law enforcement officers assisted in the successful outcome with no loss of life to friendly personnel. The BORTAC operators’ display of professionalism and bravery was exceptional and deserved to be rewarded.”
On July 22, 2016, Border Patrol Agents Aldo Martinez, Antonio Lepe, Heriberto Espinoza, Hervey Rodriguez, Rogelio Flores, and Michael O’Reilly conducted a complicated rescue of a hiker who fell from a cliff near El Cenizo, Texas. The agents received the call shortly before sunset that a man had fallen down a 50’ embankment and needed assistance. Local emergency medical teams could not reach the victim and called Border Patrol for an advanced rescue operation.
Border Patrol officials dispatched members of its elite Border Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) team. These agents are highly specialized in rescue training and emergency medical assistance. The BORSTAR team arrived and assumed command of the rescue operation. After developing a rescue plan, the agents set out to execute a “scree slope technical rope rescue system.” Agents quickly reached the victim of the fall after finding him stranded on the side of the cliff. The victim broke his leg in the fall. After stabilizing the patient, BORSTAR operators took over the extraction, secured the victim on a backboard and stokes basket, and moved him to a safe location for transportation to a local hospital for further medical care, officials stated.
Life-Saving Treatment for Assault Victims:
On May 9, 2016, Border Patrol Agents Eleazar Cortina and Jose Rodriguez received a call for assistance regarding an assault with a deadly weapon call near El Cenizo, Texas. The agents arrived on the scene and found one victim experiencing serious bleeding from a stab wound to his pelvic area. An initial assessment revealed the stabbing victim had lost a significant amount of blood and suffered from hypovolemic shock. Agent Cortina utilized his training to treat for shock by providing IV fluids. He stabilized the patient quickly and got him ready for transportation by ambulance.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez found a second stabbing victim. This young man received multiple stab wounds to his right forearm and back. Rodriguez evaluated the victim and discovered him to be suffering from tension pneumothorax, a life-threatening condition caused by a punctured lung. He treated the patient in the field and prepared him for an air evacuation. Paramedics arrived on the scene and confirmed the victim’s condition. A helicopter ambulance transported the young man to San Antonio where he received treatment in a trauma center.
Rescue of immigrants struck by lightning after being abandoned by human smugglers:
On February 20, 2017, Border Patrol Agents Joshua Davila, Ricardo Flores, and Hervey Rodriguez (BORSTAR) responded to a call for assistance from the Webb County Sheriff’s Office. Officials needed access to a ranch located southeast of Laredo. Border Patrol agents frequently have keys to local ranches provided to assist agents in the apprehension of human smuggling efforts by drug cartels operating in the area. The agents gained access to the ranch and located two distressed subjects in need of medical assistance. The victims were struck by lightning after being abandoned by human smugglers during a severe thunderstorm. The agents discovered the two individuals had been struck by lightning and left behind to die by their smugglers.
Using their knowledge of the local geography, Agents Flores and Davila assisted medical personnel in finding their way to the victims. Davila set up a landing zone for an emergency medical helicopter. The Life Flight helicopter arrived and transported the severely distressed subject to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment.
Rescue of migrant left to die:
On March 13, 2017, Border Patrol Agent Russel Cole (EMT) joined other Laredo South agents dispatched to find a group of illegal immigrants being smuggled in the area north of the border. Border security cameras picked up the illegal border crossing. Agents quickly found four of the immigrants and took them into custody. A search for the fifth immigrant began and led to the discovery of the man lying unresponsive at the bottom of a man-made pit. The agents requested BORSTAR assistance and help from the Laredo Fire Department.
Agents lowered EMT Cole into the pit where he made contact with the unconscious victim. Cole awoke the man and calmed him down after he discovered snakes in the bottom of the pit. After providing initial emergency medical treatment, Cole secured the subject, and emergency responders pulled the two men out of the pit. Emergency personnel transported the victim to a local hospital for evaluation.
Rollover crash recovery:
ON May 14, 2016, Border Patrol Agents Emmanuel Whitten, Brandon Sanchez, Joshua Guell, Brandon Best, Robert Torres, and Zachary Wright assisted in the rescue of the victims of a rollover bus crash. Border Patrol dispatchers sent the agents to respond to the crash. The agents ended up being the first emergency responders on the scene of the deadly crash.
The agents quickly assessed the scene and called for a massive emergency response as multiple fatalities and injuries were involved. The agents on scene coordinated the emergency response and began providing assistance to victims of the crash. “The rapid response and exemplary efforts of the agents on scene heavily contributed to more lives being saved and less civilian casualties,” officials stated in the award citation. “Agents Courageously put themselves at risk, entering the unstable vehicle in order to safely extract and provide care to victims trapped inside.”
As other emergency responders arrived on the scene, the agents began transferring the care of surviving victims to advanced medical rescue teams. After about an hour, the Border Patrol Incident Command Team turned over incident control to Texas DPS troopers. The agents continued in a support role. Seven victims died in the crash, and multiple others received treatment for injuries.
Breitbart Texas has regularly reported on the efforts by Border Patrol agents to provide support to local law enforcement and emergency medical response teams in the communities they serve. “This ceremony honoring our agents provides an opportunity to recognize the selfless service provided by Border Patrol agents throughout the nation,” Border Patrol Agent Garza concluded.