MISSION, Texas — Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents apprehended a group of migrants shortly after they were smuggled into the U.S. by Gulf Cartel-connected smugglers. The incident occurred during a border tour by Breitbart News in November. One of the migrants admitted to being caught by Border Patrol multiple times.
Breitbart News followed Border Patrol agents into the brush after they received alerts from sensors about migrants moving through the area located along the Rio Grande. Multiple agents and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO) helicopter crew responded and quickly apprehended five migrants.
Breitbart Texas journalist Ildefonso Ortiz interviewed the migrants as they awaited processing to learn about their experiences while being smuggled through territory controlled by the Reynosa faction of the Gulf Cartel.
“She said she’s from El Salvador,” Ortiz explained after speaking with the first migrant. “She said she’s crossed before. This is not her first time crossing.” The woman said she came to the U.S. for work.
While the woman explained her journey took weeks to complete, agents walked up with the second apprehended migrant — an adult male also from El Salvador. The man said this was his first time to cross illegally into the U.S.
“Why did you come here?” Ortiz asked the Salvadoran man.
“Crime,” the man replied. “The gangs are there, it’s delicate.” He explained he came here to make a better life for his family.
Ortiz asked the man to describe the journey through Mexico. He appeared reluctant to discuss his trip, but said it was “hard.”
“Along the way, everything happened,” the Salvadoran man explained. He said he was robbed and mistreated but would not disclose who robbed him.
Migrants are placed in stash houses at various way points of their journey through Mexico. In these houses, migrants are frequently beaten, robbed, and extorted for additional fees, Breitbart Texas reported.
Ortiz said the man explained that the smugglers held him in a stash house for about five or six days before moving him across the river. “His relatives did the smuggling deal for him so he doesn’t know how much they paid.” The man said his destination was an area north of Los Angeles.
Agents apprehended three more migrant males in this incident — one from Guatemala, another from El Salvador, and the third man was from Mexico.
The Mexican man said he came to Texas from Guerrero. “Have you been caught before?” Ortiz asked.
“Five times,” the Mexican man replied. “I am wanting to get to Houston but they haven’t let me get in.” He said his most recent failed incursion into the U.S. was about a month ago. “They stopped me and I waited because it had been very difficult, so I didn’t get in.” He explained he has been traveling for about five months since leaving his home in Guerrero.
“They caught me, I went back to my town, and then I came back,” he explained. “And I can’t get in.”
The Mexican man said he paid about $5,500 to the smugglers.
“Did you have to pay up front, or did you promise to pay?” Breitbart News Border and Cartel Chronicles projects Director Brandon Darby asked the Mexican migrant.
“He got charged $2,000 and he has to pay $5,500 once he gets over there–he has to pay it off,” Ortiz said translating the man’s reply.
Darby asked the migrants why they cross at this location when they know the smugglers south of here “are mean and brutal.”
“Well, they had offered me to go through Laredo,” the Mexican migrant responded. “They tell me that Laredo is very nasty.
One of the other young men agreed. “They sent me here because Laredo is much more dangerous than here.”
During the processing of the migrants, Border Patrol agents had them remove their shoelaces and all personal effects. “We have them remove the laces for the agent’s safety,” one of the agents explained. “We don’t want them to be able to use them as a weapon against the agents.” He also said the laces are taken to protect the migrants as well.
After Border Patrol agents completed the migrants’ processing and transported them to the station, Darby recounted some of the migrants’ conversations to Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow.
Marlow noted the physical barriers and asked why they crossed in this region.
“They decided to cross through Gulf Cartel territory because they felt like Los Zetas [near Laredo] would kidnap them and extort their families further,” Darby explained.
Darby told Marlow that the migrants don’t cross without paying the smuggling fees to the cartel. “In this case, to the Reynosa faction of the Gulf Cartel,” Darby said. “Nothing crosses that border without paying a cartel. Nothing crosses this section of the border with money going into the pockets of the Reynosa faction of the Gulf Cartel.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face