Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez spoke with Breitbart Texas about the humanitarian consequences of unsecured borders in a recent interview. More than 600 migrants died in this single South Texas county as cartel-connected human smugglers attempt to circumvent their “cargo” around an inland Border Patrol checkpoint. Other consequences in this county include migrants being raped, assaulted, and exposed to extremely dangerous medical conditions like heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Sheriff Martinez sat down recently with Breitbart Texas Editor-in-Chief Brandon Darby and border journalist Ildefonso Ortiz in his office located about 80 miles north of the Texas-Mexico Border. The sheriff discussed the real humanitarian consequences faced by migrants being smuggled through his county. He expressed his frustration with having to deal with the consequences of an unsecured border that is exploited by Mexican cartels.
Since 2009, Martinez reports that more than 600 migrants lost their lives in his county. His deputies frequently are called upon to recover the remains of those who recently died in addition to those who may have died months or years earlier.
Martinez discussed the path migrants take to get to his county from stash houses in the Rio Grande Valley. The smugglers move the migrants northward to areas located south of the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint, the sheriff said.
“They move them up X amount of miles and then they will start walking to circumvent the checkpoint,” Martinez explained. “Brooks County is 944 square miles — a lot of brush land. Unless you’re actually walking on the terrain, it’s very deceiving.”
“We have a lot of sand,” he said. “It’s a lot softer than the beach. So when they walk, they’re told a quick day or two-day walk — which it’s not.”
“What’s occurring is that their being moved around and the only ones that are really navigating, that knows which direction it’s going to be is the brush guide — the coyote,” he explained. “These people [the migrants] don’t have an idea, they’re just following.”
Martinez said the groups will frequently break up if they see Border Patrol agents or other law enforcement officials and scatter. Whey they do, the migrants get lost or injured.
“The coyote is going to fend for himself,” the sheriff said. “He’s just going to take off.” He said the migrants then just start wandering because they have no idea which way to go. They eventually end up walking in circles.
“This is where the issue begins,” Martinez stated. “When they’re being ‘stored’ in the residences [stash houses], they’re not being fed, they’re not staying hydrated.” He said this results in the migrants not having the physical resources they need to be out in the brush for several days in the South Texas heat. Many end up dead from the heat and lack of water.
So far this year, Martinez’s deputies have faced the deaths of these migrants 39 times. This brings the total number of deaths since the beginning of 2009 in this single South Texas county located 80 miles from the border to 623.
Nationwide, the Missing Migrant Project reports more than 300 migrants died this year during or shortly after illegal border crossings all along the U.S. border with Mexico. This represents a nearly 10 percent increase over the same period in 2017.