Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement recovered the bodies or remains of three deceased migrants in as many days. A local resident found a set of human remains on a ranch located about 80 miles north from the Texas-Mexico border.
The Brooks County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) contacted Border Patrol agents assigned the Falfurrias Station about the discovery of a set of human remains by a local rancher. The ranch is located near the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint about 80 miles from the border, according to information provided by BCSO officials.
The area is well known for human smuggling operations where “coyotes” force migrants on hazardous marches around the Border Patrol checkpoint located in the middle of Brooks County, Texas.
BCSO Commander Jorge Esparza received a notice from dispatchers that a rancher found the skeletal remains of a migrant. The commander drove to the scene and met with a Border Patrol supervisor who escorted him 5.5 miles onto the property.
Commander Esparza observed several human bones scattered by animals. Initially, the officials found only two. An expanded search led to the discovery of other major bones in a 20-yard radius.
The investigation led to the discovery of a faded brown wallet containing four identification cards (including a university identification card), credit cards, and U.S. and Guatemalan currency that suggest the victim’s identity to be 35-year-old Oswaldo Marvin Veliz Valdez, a Guatemalan national. Searchers also found a cell phone and one shoe nearby.
Commander Esparza recovered the remains and a local justice of the peace made the formal declaration of death. The Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office in Laredo, Texas, will conduct an autopsy and attempt to verify the identity of the migrant.
The deceased migrant is the 46th to be found in this single South Texas county located about 80 miles from the Mexican border.
The following day, Fort Brown Station agents patrolling along the Rio Grande River near Brownsville, Texas, came upon the body of another migrant on the U.S. side of the border. The agent notified the Brownsville police and fire departments who responded to the scene and recovered the body. EMS officials transported the body to a local funeral home and the justice of the peace ordered an autopsy.
On Monday morning, McAllen Station agents patrolling south of Mission, Texas, located another body floating in the Rio Grande River. Local police and fire department officials responded and assisted in the recovery of the body. A local justice of the peace ordered the body transported to a morgue where an autopsy will be conducted.
This year, officials recovered the bodies or remains of more than 110 migrants who died while illegally entering the U.S. or shortly thereafter, according to the International Organization for Migrants’ Missing Migrant Project. At least 368 migrants died along the entire U.S.-Mexico Border this year — more than 220 in Texas. This represents an increase of at least 43 deaths over the same period in 2017.