Officials in Brooks County, Texas, report that nine migrants lost their lives in January while attempting to circumnavigate the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint. The number of deaths represents an increase of nearly 30 percent over January 2017.
“The cold snaps in January were devastating,” Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez told Breitbart Texas on Thursday. “Despite our best efforts to try and prevent the loss of lives, we ended up finding the bodies of nine people. Last year — we lost seven during the same period.”
The deputies of the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office worked closely with U.S. Border Patrol officials to aggressively work the known drop off areas in the southern part of the country located about 80 miles north of the Texas/Mexico border. Texas Department of Public Safety troopers also assisted the county in attempting to reduce the number of deaths.
“We knew that the freezing conditions would take the lives of these people,” Martinez said. “Our goal was to try and stop or slow down the number of people being dropped off by these human smugglers that have no regard for the safety of their ‘cargo’.”
Breitbart Texas has reported extensively on the deaths of migrants in this one county in South Texas. During 2017, Martinez’s deputies and Border Patrol agents faced the task of removing the bodies or remains of 52 migrants. The previous year, 61 lost their lives.
Human smugglers, mostly connected to Mexican drug cartels, transport their “human cargo” from stash houses in the Rio Grande Valley to the southern part of Brooks County. The U.S. Border Patrol operates a checkpoint that is centrally located in the county. There are no other roads around the checkpoint so the smugglers drop their loads into the ranches and force marches to roads in the northern half of the county.
The migrants are often ill-prepared for the exposure to the weather, soft sand, rattlesnakes, and other impediments force some to fall behind. When they do–the smugglers typically leave them to die.
Summer months are normally the most deadly for migrants in Brooks County. However, in the past 45 days, at least 13 were found dead due to the freezing conditions.
“The more people that are pushed into the ranchlands with these human smugglers, the more deaths we are likely to have,” Sheriff Martinez told Breitbart Texas in December. “These smugglers just don’t care about the lives of these people. If they fall behind for any reason — these smugglers abandon them and leave them for dead.”