Officials in El Paso, Texas, recovered the bodies of seven people who apparently drowned in canals and irrigation tunnels along the Mexican border. The most recent recovery occurred on Tuesday night when officials found a man and a girl on a bank. Officials believe all but one were migrants crossing from Mexico.
Members of the El Paso Fire Department recovered the bodies of a man and a girl on the bank of a canal on El Paso’s lower valley Tuesday night, KVIA reported. The drownings occurred near the Jonathan W. Rogers Water Treatment Plant.
El Paso Police Department Sergeant Enrique Carrillo told Breitbart News in a phone interview Wednesday that his department is investigating the deaths of six people who died in the canals during the past week. KVIA reports a seventh occurred on Saturday when a woman’s body was found floating in Socorro, New Mexico.
“While tragic, these types of deaths are not uncommon for this time of year,” Sgt. Carrillo told Breitbart News. “With the high levels of border crossings and the swiftly moving currents, we anticipate more drownings will occur.”
The El Paso police spokesman said that five of the six bodies recovered in El Paso were migrants attempting to cross from Mexico. The sixth was that of a transient, he said.
Carrillo said that the dams in the region release water this time of year for irrigation purposes. “Normally, the Rio Grande is just a trickle of water,” he explained. “Then, they open the gates and things change quickly.”
Last week, Breitbart News reported that El Paso officials issued warnings that the water releases would increase the danger of drownings in the canals located near the border area.
Fire department officials warned that the currents pull people to the center of the river where the fastest currents are located. They said the current will pull you under. The faster the current, the more difficult it becomes for water rescue teams and Border Patrol agents to conduct successful rescue operations, the local ABC affiliate reported.
U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector spokesman Fidel Baca explained that the increased current from the dam release also impacts the American Canal. “For the El Paso Sector, that’s going to be the most dangerous part,” he told a KVIA reporter.
On Wednesday, El Paso Sector Border Patrol officials told Breitbart News that their agents located three of the deceased people in a storm drain adjacent to the Rio Grande on Monday. Over the weekend, agents also rescued four illegal immigrants attempting to cross the dangerous canals.
“We have seen massive increases in the numbers of border crossings this year,” Carrillo explained. “This means the likelihood is that we will see an increase in the numbers of tragic drownings.”
Last year, several migrants, including two teenage girls, drowned in July, Breitbart News reported. Border Patrol spokesman Joe Ramero spoke to the El Paso Times about the callous nature of the cartel-connected human smugglers. “With the smugglers being ruthless, they don’t care about the loss of life,” Ramero explained at that time.
“They’re going to try and exploit whatever they can to cross the border into the United States illegally,” he said. “Most people aren’t aware of the dangers in the canal, especially during irrigation season. Those canals can be 15 and 18 feet high and the currents run 25 miles per hour. Even a good swimmer can’t survive that.”