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EXCLUSIVE — Graphic Photos Show Deadly Consequences of Unsecured Border in Texas County

Cindy Vanessa Mendez kneels over her father's body. Omar Mendez Perez died after being left behind by human smugglers after he fell ill and was unable to keep up. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)
Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office/Deputy Elias Pompa
BOB PRICE

The brutal consequences of our open border are highlighted by the bodies of hundreds of illegal immigrants who died in one Texas county located 80 miles inland from Mexico. In total, 618 corpses have been found since 2009 — many of the deceased have never been identified and their loved ones simply never heard from the migrant again after they crossed the border into the U.S.

Photos released to Breitbart Texas by the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office in Falfurrias, Texas, tell the graphic story of what remains after these illegal immigrants are abandoned by human smugglers and left to die.

“What happens to these people is horrible,” Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez told Breitbart Texas in a phone interview. “These photos represent what our deputies see when they are called out by Border Patrol agents and ranchers to recover the decomposing bodies or skeletal remains of people who experience frightening and often painful deaths after being abandoned by human smugglers.”

So far this year, Martinez’s deputies have been called out to recover the bodies or remains of 34 migrants who died in the fields of Brooks County.

Dying of thirst is often a frightening and painful experience for the victim, officials say. In Brooks County, the migrants are frequently left by themselves when they become injured, dehydrated, suffer heat exhaustion, or for any other reason cannot keep up, the sheriff explained. “Often their own family members are forced to leave their loved one behind by these callous human smugglers,” Marinez said.

The victim is then left alone, in fear of what is likely their inevitable death.

“Other times, their loved ones must sit by helplessly and watch them die,” Martinez said.

University of Pennsylvania nephrologist, Dr. Jeffrey Berns said, “Thirst, as you probably know, is one of the most potent drives for behavior we have. It may be the most potent we have, more than even hunger,” in a 2014 Washington Post interview. “People are going to be miserable.”

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“All the cells will shrink,” Berns said, “but the ones that count are the brain cells. They don’t operate normally when they’re’ shrinking.” Changes in mental status will follow, including confusion and ultimately coma, he said. As the brain becomes smaller, it takes up less room in the skull and blood vessels connecting it to the inside of the cranium can pull away and rupture.

This man, who died of dehydration, during a wilderness survival exercise, suffered delirium and hallucinations before he succumbed, according to an Associated Press investigation.

Victims’ kidneys may shut down first, Berns said, as they continue to lack access to both water and salt. The kidneys cleanse the blood of waste products which, under normal conditions, are excreted in urine. Without water, blood volume will decline and all the organs will start to fail, he said. Kidney failure will soon lead to disastrous consequences and ultimately death as blood volume continues to fall and waste products that should be eliminated from the body remain.

Sheriff Martinez said it is important for people to see what happens to these victims so they do not just become numbers on a report. “These are real people who die horrible deaths because we will not get serious about securing our border and stopping the abuses committed by human smugglers,” he said. “I know these images are graphic, but this is what our people have seen more than 600 times since 2009.”

Following are photos released by Sheriff Martinez and the basic information collected by his deputies in seven of this year’s 34 victims:

Victim 1: Mariano Ramirez-Quintanilla

Officials are fortunate to have identification documents with the body of this Honduran national. Frequently, there are no such means of identifying the remains and other forensic investigations are required. The task then falls on the Webb County Medical Examiner to determine the victim’s identity and make notifications to waiting families.

Mariano Ramirez-Quintanilla, a 41-year-old Honduran national who died in Brooks County, Texas, in June 2018. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

Mariano Ramirez-Quintanilla, a 41-year-old Honduran national who died in Brooks County, Texas, in June 2018. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

Brooks County deputies were called to the scene on June 13 along with Justice of the Peace Rolando Garza. Border Patrol agents escorted them to the scene of Mariano Ramirez-Quintanilla’s death. The inquest documents describe him as a 41-year-old Hispanic male.

Identification photo of Mariano Ramirez-Quintanilla. (Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

Identification photo of Mariano Ramirez-Quintanilla. (Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

Officials found the Honduran illegal immigrant lying face down beneath a tree located on a ranch in the southwest part of the county. His feet were bare, likely a result of animals attempting access the flesh.

After wrapping the man’s body in a sheet and placing it in a body bag, officials carried the remains until they could be placed in a vehicle. Officials transported the body to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office where an autopsy will be conducted.

Victim 2: Wilber Francisco Colindres Peralta

The near-skeletal remains of Wilber Francisco Colindres Peralta were also discovered on June 13 on a different ranch located west of the town of Encino, Texas. This area is a well-known area where smugglers to drop off their “human cargo” to begin their march around the Border Patrol Checkpoint located on U.S. Highway 281.

Officials discovered this victim’s remains lying on his back underneath a tree as he apparently attempted to find some shelter from the near 100-degree heat of the South Texas summer.

Near-skeletal remains of a man identified as Wilber Francisco Colindres Peralta, a 23-year-old Honduran national. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

Near-skeletal remains of a man identified as Wilber Francisco Colindres Peralta, a 23-year-old Honduran national. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

In this case, decomposition left the victim’s identification card as the only means of immediate identification. The Honduran national was just over 23-year-old when he forfeited his life in an attempt to illegally come into the United States.

(Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

(Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

It appears that animals scattered the victim’s shoes and other artifacts in an attempt to consume the flesh from his remains.

Officials transported Colindres Peralta’s remains to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

Victim 3: Identity Unknown

The following morning, Brooks County deputies responded to another call to recover the body of an abandoned migrant. Deputy Bianca Mora reported that when she and the justice of the peace arrived they found a man lying underneath a brushy area where he apparently collapsed. The man’s appeared to have recently died as advanced decomposition had not set in. Unfortunately, the man did not have identification.

Unidentified body of an illegal immigrant found dead in Brooks County. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

Unidentified body of an illegal immigrant found dead in Brooks County. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

Officials found the victim on a ranch located slightly northwest of the Border Patrol Checkpoint. He appeared to be fairly close to the end of his march when he gave out. Someone who apparently cared for the man left a bottle of water, and a bag of tortillas between his feet.

A small supply of food and water left behind with this migrant was apparently not enough to keep him alive. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

A small supply of food and water left behind with this migrant was apparently not enough to keep him alive. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

While the victim had no identification, an examination of his body uncovered foreign currency and several phone numbers and names on small scraps of paper. It is not known if those are family members or other people he was to contact in the human smuggling train.

He also had a cell phone that he was apparently unable to use to call for help.

Victim 4: Identity Unknown

Brooks County Deputy Emanuel Galaviz joined a justice of the peace and Border Patrol agents on a ranch located in the western part of the county, about a mile and a half south of FM 285. Border Patrol agents found the remains of an illegal immigrant lying on his side near a fence.

Unidentified body of an illegal immigrant found dead near the end of his journey through Brooks County. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

Unidentified body of an illegal immigrant found dead near the end of his journey through Brooks County. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

The migrant’s journey around the checkpoint was nearly completed when he succumbed to the lack of water or the heat. FM 285 is a well-known pickup spot for illegal immigrants who have successfully circumvented the Border Patrol Checkpoint.

Guatemalan currency found on unidentified migrant who died in Brooks County after being abandoned by human smugglers. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

Guatemalan currency found on unidentified migrant who died in Brooks County after being abandoned by human smugglers. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

No identification documents were found at the scene of his death. Officials reported the man wore a long sleeve black shirt, jeans, a black belt, and black shoes. He was carrying a small amount of currency from Guatemala. He also had a cell phone battery. Officials found no phone at the scene.

Victim 5: Omar Mendez Perez

Brooks County officials received a call on June 18 from a rancher who reported that young woman came up to him asking for help for her father. Deputy Elias Pompa arrived on the ranch located several miles northwest of the Border Patrol Checkpoint and interviewed the woman he identified as 23-year-old Cindy Vanessa Mendez.

Cindy Vanessa Mendez kneels over her father's body. Omar Mendez Perez died after being left behind by human smugglers after he fell ill and was unable to keep up. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

Cindy Vanessa Mendez kneels over her father’s body. Omar Mendez Perez died after being left behind by human smugglers after he fell ill and was unable to keep up. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

The rancher initially tried to help Mendez find her father but had no success. Another ranch workers eventually found the deceased man about an hour later.

The woman told Pompa that she and her father were traveling with a group of illegal immigrants through the brush-covered ranch. Her father, who suffered from high blood pressure became ill and could not keep up. The smuggler told the group to keep moving and left them behind.

When the deputy and ranch worker came upon the site where the victim died, they found him slumped over in a kneeling position over three water jugs. He was in a grassy area in sandy fields that make walking extremely difficult and exhausting. The site is located about three miles inside the ranch.

Omar Mendez Perez died in Brooks County after being abandoned and left to die by human smugglers. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

Omar Mendez Perez died in Brooks County after being abandoned and left to die by human smugglers. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

Identification documents confirmed the man as a Honduran national, Omar Mendez Perez (age 46).

Officials transported the man to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

Two Border Patrol officials assisted in the body recovery. Brooks County Reserve Deputy Don White, who volunteers to help the understaffed sheriff’s office, also joined Deputy Pompa in the effort.

Victim 6: Octaciano Banega Galeas

On June 28, Brooks County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received a call from a man who said he was traveling with another person and that they became lost. The caller told agents one of the men could be dying. Dispatchers contacted Border Patrol officials and provided GPS coordinates from the caller. The agents found the two men on a ranch located west of the Border Patrol checkpoint.

When the agents arrived on the scene, they found one of the men leaning against the man who appeared to be deceased. The men were sitting against a tree in an attempt to seek refuge from the intense afternoon heat.

 

Honduran national Octaciano Banega Galeas died in Brooks County after being abandoned and left to die by human smugglers. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

Honduran national Octaciano Banega Galeas died in Brooks County after being abandoned and left to die by human smugglers. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

 

A short time later, Deputy Mora arrived and observed the remains of the man who had died after the pair were abandoned by their smuggler and left to wander around the brush until they died.

Identification documents located on the victim’s body indicated the man was a 29-year-old Honduran national, Octaciano Banega Galeas.

Officials said the man was carrying a couple of credit cards and a small amount of cash. He was also wearing a what appeared to be a silver ring on his left hand. He also had a compass attached to his wrist.

A justice of the peace declared the Honduran man to be dead and officials transported the body to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

The second man was treated and taken into custody, Border Patrol officials reported.

Victim 7: Identity Unknown

Brooks County Deputy Emmanuel Galaviz received notification of the county’s 34th migrant death on the morning of July 26. After arriving on a ranch located on U.S. Highway 281, the deputy rendezvoused with Border Patrol agents who had discovered the body of a deceased illegal alien approximately 6 miles inside the ranch.

Border Patrol agents and a Brooks County Sheriff's Office deputy recover the unidentified remains of "Body 34" on a ranch near the Border Patrol checkpoint. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)

Border Patrol agents and a Brooks County Sheriff’s Office deputy recover the unidentified remains of “Body 34” on a ranch near the Border Patrol checkpoint. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff’s Office)

The migrant had no identifying documents but the deputy found a $100 bill, a $50 bill, and a variety of miscellaneous papers. The report obtained by Breitbart Texas states that the migrant wore a long sleeve shirt, blue jeans, brown boots, black socks, and a black belt. He was carrying a black wallet and a comb at the time of his death.

Some of the papers carried by the deceased man included phone numbers and email addresses that investigators will use to attempt to identify the remains.

Officials turned the unidentified migrant over to a funeral home who will transport the remains to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office for possible identification.

‘False Compassion of Open Borders’

“It is the false compassion of open borders that lead to the deaths of these illegal immigrants and other abuses we find out about,” Sheriff Martinez told Breitbart Texas earlier this week. “These people are abused all along the smuggling pipeline. It comes to a head here in my county where they are often left to die while being smuggled around the Border Patrol’s checkpoint.”

“The death of Mr. Perez is a perfect example of this,” the sheriff said. “We don’t often have a witness of the death to interview after the fact. This young woman had to sit and watch her father die because of the callousness of human smugglers who simply do not care about the health and safety of those who pay them.”

This year, at least 260 illegal immigrants have lost their lives this year in an effort to illegally enter the U.S. along our southwest border with Mexico, according to the Missing Migrant Project. Nearly 15 percent of the national total occurs in this one small county located 80 miles away from the border, according to numbers provided by the Missing Migrant Project and the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office.

Nationally, the number of migrant deaths is up substantially when compared to 2016 and 2017. In 2017, year-to-date numbers revealed the deaths of at least 235 migrants, up from 234 the year before. During the same period in 2015 and 2014, 127 and 92 migrants died during the same period of January 1 through August 21.

In Brooks County, Sheriff Martinez is once again faced with increasing numbers of dead migrants and people continue to march through his county.

“They just keep coming,” the frustrated sheriff said. “As long as the federal government fails to secure the border, they will keep coming — and they will keep dying.”

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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