Winter Blast Leads to Death, Rescues for Illegal Texas Border Crossers

BP rescue of IAs in Winter Conditions
File Photo: U.S. Border Patrol

For many, the winter blast that struck the southwestern U.S. over the past few days was seen as either beautiful or inconvenient — for illegal aliens crossing the border, it became a matter of life or death.

U.S. Border Patrol agents in Texas scrambled to save lives and, unfortunately, recover the bodies of illegal aliens who chose to cross during a downturn in the weather. The cold conditions claimed at least two lives and forced agents to provide medical assistance to dozens during the rescue of the survivors.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials reported that agents in the Del Rio, Laredo, and Big Bend Sectors rescued nearly 50 illegal aliens from the cold conditions. Officials reported at least two fatalities from exposure to the unexpected freezing conditions.


CBP’s Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Air Interdiction Agents (AIA) discovered a group of 15 lost in the desert by tracking their trail in the snow, according to information obtained by Breitbart Texas from CBP officials. The search led to the top of a mountain where the migrants were in various states of hypothermia and distress.

AIA Agent Derk Richardson, an advanced EMT with AMOs elite emergency medical services team (AMEMS) jumped into action and began triage assessment of the suffering migrants. Richardson determined one of the individuals had died prior to his arrival. Border Patrol Agent Jesus Flores assisted Richardson with assessment and logistical support.

The agent called for additional EMT support for the seriously distressed patients. He then provided prolonged field care until help arrived. Once additional EMTs were on the scene, Richardson coordinated prioritizing and moving the patients down the mountain. Richardson moved the most critical patients off the mountain using a Eurocopter AS350. He serves as the command pilot of that aircraft.

The helicopter airlifted five illegal aliens off the mountain while other agents transported nine additional migrants by Border Patrol vehicles.

The teamwork transitioned from CBP rescuers to local EMTs who transported the traumatized illegal immigrants to a local hospital for more advanced treatment.

Marfa Station Border Patrol agents learned the group of Guatemalan nationals had been hiking through the mountainous terrain for about a week. On Wednesday, an unusually strong cold front moved into the area creating life-threatening conditions.

“While the loss of even one life is tragic, the heroic efforts of our expertly trained agents responding to this chaotic, mass-casualty event clearly saved 14 lives from certain death,” Supervisory Air Interdiction Agent and AMEMS Program Manager Jeff Birks said in a written statement. “Their immediate and enduring response, under the harshest of conditions, reflects great credit upon themselves and our agency.”


Border Patrol agents assigned to the Laredo Sector rescued more than 20 illegal immigrants in nine separate incidents, officials stated. The illegal aliens from Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras fell into distress from the unexpectedly cold winter storm that passed through the area on Wednesday.

The incidents occurred near the border communities of Laredo, Hebbronville, Freer, and Zapata, Texas, after the migrants became lost in the brush. Agents on horseback searched the various areas to track and rescue the illegal immigrants.

Agents certified as Emergency Medical Technicians reported several of the migrants suffered from “moderate to severe hypothermia,” officials stated. Fortunately, the EMT trained agents were able to quickly provide initial care leading to the recovery of their core body temperatures. Following the initial treatment, the immigrants were determined to be in good health and arrested for illegally crossing the border from Mexico.


Agents assigned to the Eagle Pass Station received a 911 call on Friday about a group of three illegal aliens lost in the brush on a remote ranch. The caller told the dispatcher their group became separated from a larger group of migrants and that one of them was suffering from the extremely cold conditions that hit the area earlier in the week.

The dispatcher sent Border Patrol agents to search for the missing group. Upon their arrival, agents determined one of the group of illegal immigrants had succumbed to the conditions. Agents contacted the Maverick County Sheriff’s Office to recover the body and sent a notification to the Mexican consulate regarding the death of a Mexican citizen.

The agents learned that more illegal aliens could be lost and in distress, officials stated. Agents from the Eagle Pass South Station, the Uvalde Sation, and the Del Rio Sector Special Operations Detachment joined the search and found 14 additional illegal immigrants.

Officials stated this storm brought the first “substantial snowfall” to the Eagle Pass area for more than 30 years. Because of the frigid conditions and the difficulty in navigating the brush-covered terrain, the agents likely saved several lives, officials said.

“Crossing the border illegally poses multiple hazards,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez. “Sadly another human life was lost [Friday] while attempting to illegally enter the United States.”

Del Rio Sector officials reported that agents found 17 illegal immigrants who died during the recently ended Fiscal Year 2017.

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.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.