Sheriff’s deputies and Border Patrol agents are working together in South Texas to interdict human smugglers before they can drop off their “cargo” in freezing conditions in one of America’s most deadly counties for migrants.
Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez told Breitbart Texas his deputies are working with an extra focus to stop cartel-connected human smugglers from dropping off illegal aliens south of the Border Patrol checkpoint located in the middle of his county.
“It is unusually cold this winter and we have already had deaths from migrants being left in freezing conditions,” Martinez said Tuesday. “We are going to do everything we can to stop these smugglers from dropping off the migrants and putting them in danger. It will be miserable out there for them.”
Deputies and Border Patrol agents recovered the bodies of eight in one week during a cold snap in December, Breitbart Texas reported. Rio Grande Valley Sector agents recovered two additional bodies that same week in other parts.
“Our deputies are putting themselves in harm’s way to try and protect these migrants,” the sheriff explained. “We are getting rain and icing conditions which greatly enhances the danger of hypothermia. If these migrants are not layered up with winter gear, they will be in serious trouble.”
“It may be days, weeks, or even months before the impact of this winter storm can be counted,” the sheriff explained. “Any deaths that occur this week will remain in the fields until they are discovered by other immigrants, ranchers, or Border Patrol agents.”
“The Rio Grande Valley Sector is taking preventative measures to mitigate weather-related issues, specifically in the northern corridors,” Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Robert Rodriguez told Breitbart Texas in response to an inquiry. “We have deployed additional agents, including BORSTAR operators, to assist in rescue operations in the areas where severe cold-related deaths have occurred in the past.”
“Agents are patrolling drop off locations commonly used by smugglers as they attempt to circumvent the checkpoints,” Rodriguez explained. “The focus is to avert groups of illegal immigrants being subjected to these extremely dangerous conditions. Smugglers have been known to abandon them leaving them to succumb to the elements.”
Sheriff Martinez agreed. “The migrants will have to hike through these miserable conditions,” he said. “And, if any of them can’t keep up, the coyotes simply leave them behind.”
“Our deputies and the agents are conducting interdiction operations in the southern part of the county to try and stop the drop-offs,” Marinez stated. “If we can catch them there, or delay their being dropped off until the cold weather passes, then we will save lives.”
“Illegal immigrants are victimized and lied to by smugglers who lead them through treacherous terrain and expose them to extreme conditions,” Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla, Jr. said in a written statement in December. “Those unable to keep up are left behind; some are rescued by Border Patrol agents but, tragically, we don’t find others until it is too late.”
While there have not been any deaths yet attributed to this recent series of winter cold-snaps, 52 illegal immigrants lost their lives in Brooks County throughout 2017.
Martinez expressed frustration at not being able to stop the deaths.
“The more people that are pushed into the ranchlands by the coyotes, the more deaths we are likely to have,” the sheriff stated. “These smugglers just don’t care about the lives of these people.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with additional information from the U.S. Border Patrol.
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 @BobPriceBBTX, Gab, and Facebook.