EDINBURG, Texas — U.S. Border Patrol agents, a Customs and Border Protection aircrew, and local law enforcement officers teamed up to raid a human smuggling stash house near the Texas border. The enforcement action led to the arrest of two alleged human smugglers and the recovery of ten migrants who illegally crossed the border from Mexico.
An intelligence unit working near the Texas-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector observed a vehicle on November 15 believed to be carrying a load of illegal aliens, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) aircrew member told Breitbart News during an AMO Blackhawk helicopter ride along. The agent followed the alleged smugglers’ vehicle until it arrived at its destination — a human smuggling stash house.
The AMO Blackhawk aircrew received a request for assistance from ground-based agents to provide overhead coverage of an anticipated raid on the stash house. The AMO agents responded to the scene to provide air cover in the event of migrants or smugglers attempting to flee during the raid.
After the AMO aircrew arrived on the scene, the onboard agents learned law enforcement officials on the ground arrested two alleged human smugglers and recovered ten migrants who were illegally present in the U.S. The nationalities and genders of the migrants were not immediately available.
An AMO aircrew member told Breitbart’s John Binder following the flight that they frequently encounter stash houses like this one. Migrants who successfully make it across the border and to a roadway are quickly picked up by human smugglers and transported to a stash house.
During interviews with CBP and Border Patrol officials this week, officials stated that once migrants manage to sneak past frontline Border Patrol agents, human smugglers will pick them up in vehicles and take them quickly to stash houses located in residential neighborhoods in other border communities. In these stash houses, migrants will frequently be abused and their families extorted for additional smuggling fees before continuing their journey into the U.S. interior.
In October, an arrest of migrants being smuggled through an interior checkpoint in the Del Rio Sector led to the development of intelligence information about a stash house located in Eagle Pass, Texas. Border Patrol agents and ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents executed a raid on the suspected stash house and arrested three suspected human smugglers — all residents of Eagle Pass, CBP officials stated. Agents also recovered nine migrants being held in the stash house awaiting inland transportation.
The migrants came to the U.S. from El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico, officials stated.
“Human stash houses are commonly used by criminal organizations to stage smuggled people in often sub-human conditions,” Del Rio Sector officials wrote. “Individuals must typically await transport to interior destinations of the United States and pay fees to smugglers. It is not uncommon to be held for weeks in small, cramped structures without adequate ventilation, running water, or sanitation.”
“Smugglers have also engaged in robbery, rape, and physical abuse,” the officials stated.