CNN Joins Effort to Expose Migrant Bodies Found at Texas Border

CNN's Chris Cuomo and Laredo Sector Assistant Chief Gabriel Cuomo on the Rio Grande River near Laredo.
CNN HLN Video Screenshot

CNN’s Chris Cuomo presents a graphic look at migrant deaths from illegal border crossings this Friday night. In this week’s Inside with Chris Cuomo, he travels to Webb County, Texas, where he gets a first-hand look at the tragic deaths of illegal aliens who die while attempting to enter the U.S. The show airs on CNN’s sister network, HLN at 9 p.m. EDT.

During “The Talking Dead,” Cuomo travels along the border with Webb County Medical Examiner, Dr. Corinne Stern. The Laredo, Texas, medical examiner is tasked with identifying the remains of those left behind by ruthless cartel-connected human smugglers where they die from dehydration and heat stroke on an all-too-frequent basis.

Referring to Border Patrol agents whose job it is to track down these illegal immigrants, Cuomo says, “Even with all the helicopters, sensors, and manpower, by the time they find the migrants in this inhospitable terrain — it is often too late.”

Cuomo’s video trailer provides an extremely graphic look at what Texas law enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents face on an all too often basis as the dead migrants are found in varying degrees of decomposition.

Cuomo said that less than one-third of the Laredo Sector’s 171 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico is monitored by sensors and cameras. The rest, as Breitbart Texas Editor-in-Chief Brandon Darby has been reporting for years, is wide open.

“It’s very rough terrain,” Laredo Sector Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Gabriel Acosta tells Cuomo. “Once you get underneath (the brush), you have this canopy over you, where you have no clue where you are at. Unless you actually know those trails, you’re not going to know which way is north, which way is up, or which way is down.”

Dr. Stern processes the deceased migrants she refers to a “patients” rather than bodies. In addition to the deceased migrants found in Brooks County, Stern also provides services to other smaller counties from Brooks County in the east, to Del Rio in the west.

Many of those deceased migrants are found in Brooks County where Breitbart Texas has been reporting on their deaths since 2014.

“We have had 43 deaths in our county this year,” Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez told Breitbart Texas on Tuesday. “While the rate of deaths is down this year, the total number of deaths since 2009 now stands at 573.”

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 attributes the lower death rate this year to the increased Border Patrol activity in the Rio Grande Valley Sector since President Donald Trump took office in January.

“It all has to do with resources,” the sheriff said. “It’s been a big help.” A big help for indeed for Texas’ poorest county whose taxpayers must foot the bill for Dr. Stern’s autopsy and identification costs.

“Human smugglers in our area have moved further west this year,” Martinex explained. “This means the migrants have much further to walk before they can be picked up on highway 285 near the Brooks/Jim Hogg county line.”

In an interview with Breitbart Texas on Tuesday, Dr. Stern says her office is on pace to exceed the number of deaths of migrants recorded last year. “We have seen 109 migrant deaths as of today,” she stated. “In addition to the 43 from Brooks County, 42 were found here in Webb County. Starr County had 10, Dimmit had 5, and the remainder came from Jim Hogg, Zapata, Maverick, Kenedy, and Val Verde counties.”

In 2016, Stern said she processed the remains of 124 deceased migrants.

“We believe the number of actual deaths is actually higher than this,” Stern explained. “Many of the justices of the peace do not send the remains to us if they can identify them. Some will use identification found in the pockets of the deceased as identification. Unfortunately, this can be very misleading.”

Dr. Stern discusses the time it takes to identify the remains of the migrants, saying it often takes up to five months to get DNA results. She tries to use other methods to find their identities more quickly.

Cuomo walks outside Stern’s office where the doctor shows him two large coolers where the remains of 52 migrants are being stored until she receives DNA results from the FBI. Sheriff Martinez says many of those came from Brooks County.

Once it is determined that an immigrant’s remains will not be able to be identified, the body is transported to local cemeteries where they are buried in graves marked “John Doe” or “Jane Doe.” After time passes most of those grave markers disappear, leaving no trace of the unidentified migrant.

“We’re talking about hundreds of John Does and Jane Does,” Laredo cemetery supervisor David Paredes tells Cuomo. “Even little children that never get identified.”

BORSTAR Border Patrol Agents remove the body of a deceased illegal alien in Brooks County. (Photo: Bob Price/Breitbart Texas)

Stern says the migrants make up about 25 percent of the deaths that she processed in Webb County. “But it takes up about 40 percent of my time,” she explained.

Cuomo and Dr. Stern did not talk about the cost born by taxpayers for these deaths. Sheriff Martinez told Breitbart Texas in earlier interviews his cost approaches $2,500 per deceased migrant.

Cuomo did ask her what she thinks of those who complain about the cost of burying “those who don’t belong here.”

Stern responded, “I don’t practice politics, I practice medicine.”

In her interview with Breitbart Texas, she expressed that she is happy to see the federal government increasing prosecution of the human smugglers who cause these deaths. “They’re really starting to crack down on the smugglers,” Stern said. “We are seeing more and more prosecutions.”

Sheriff Martinez expressed his frustration with the mounting death toll his county is experiencing. “As long as these ruthless human smugglers continue to make money marching their ‘cargo’ through South Texas, these deaths will continue,” the sheriff said. “We will keep doing our best to save as many of them as we can.”

“The Talking Dead” episode of Inside with Chris Cuomo will air Friday, October 27, at 9 p.m. EDT on CNN’s sister network, HLN.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with information from an interview with Dr. Stern.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGAB, and Facebook.


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