The remains of four more migrants were found in Brooks County, Texas — the deadliest in the nation for those smuggled into the U.S. The recoveries raised the local death toll to 43 in 2018.
On the morning of October 20, Brooks County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received a call from U.S. Border Patrol agents about a deceased migrant found on a ranch located west of Falfurrias. The area is a well-known pickup for smugglers who march their “human cargo” around the Border Patrol checkpoint on U.S. Highway 281.
Brooks County Deputy Bianca Mora arrived at the ranch and was escorted six miles into the property where she observed the body of a recently deceased male. The man was found lying on his back with his ankles crossed. A search of the man’s body revealed a wallet with Mexican identification documents. The documents identify the man as Jose Valtierra Alvizo.
The deputy also found Mexican currency, a cell phone, and other miscellaneous papers.
The local justice of the peace made the declaration of death and the man’s body was transported to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office in Laredo, Texas.
The death of Valtierra marks the 43rd in this Texas county located about 80 miles north of the state’s border with Mexico. With at least 43 deaths, Brooks County remains the deadliest in the United States for migrants who have illegally crossed the border or who are being smuggled into the U.S. interior.
Brooks County accounts for more than 20 percent of migrant deaths in Texas and nearly 13 percent of all migrants deaths at or near the entire U.S. border with Mexico, according to the U.N. Migration Agency’s Missing Migrant Project.
Baltierra Alvizo’s death marks the third discovered in Brooks County in less than a week and the fifth of the month. Since 2009, Sheriff Benny 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.
During the week preceding the discovery of the 43rd victim, Brooks County deputies recovered the skeletal remains of three additional migrants. The lack of identifying documents will make the identification of these migrants much more difficult for the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office — the agency responsible for identifying the remains of migrants in several South Texas counties.
The Missing Migrant Project reports that at least 334 migrants have died while crossing the border or while being smuggled into the U.S. Nearly 200 of these deaths occurred in Texas.