Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement officials found the bodies or skeletal remains of more than 100 migrants so far this fiscal year.
Despite nearly 1,000 rescues and new technology deployed to help lost migrants call for help, Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector found the bodies or remains of more than 100 migrants so far this fiscal year, according to information obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Some of these migrants drowned while crossing the Rio Grande border from Mexico. Others died on the vast arid ranchlands both on the border and further inland.
CBP officials stated that most of the more than 100 deaths of migrants came on the “rugged ranchlands in south Texas.” On many of these ranches, human smugglers send migrants on a foot journey around interior Border Patrol checkpoints.
During these treks, if a migrant gets separated, falls behind, get’s injured or ill, or for any other reason, can’t keep up, the smugglers leave them behind to die,” Brook County Sheriff Benny Martinez told Breitbart Texas. So far this calendar year, Sheriff Martinez’s deputies recovered the bodies or skeletal remains of at least 70 migrants.
“We’ve had a 140% increase in dead bodies, a 130% increase in 9-1-1 calls, over 200% increase in rescues,” Sheriff Martinez said during testimony before Congress during a hearing this week. “We’re 70 miles north of the [Rio Grande] river, we do have a checkpoint, a lot of private land, and this is what’s occurring in our backyard. There’s a lack of manpower, there’s a lack of resources.”
Border Patrol agents in this sector conducted nearly 1,000 in the sector as emergency calls from lost migrants became a near-daily occurrence, officials stated. Border Patrol agents also deployed 24 rescue beacons on the ranchlands to help reduce the number of deaths. By the end of the fiscal year, September 30, another 24 will be deployed.
CBP officials added:
Migrants are exposed to dangers even before setting foot on U.S. soil. In the RGV, a common method of illegal entry is via inflatable raft. Smugglers will overfill rafts, many times leading to the possibility of the vessel capsizing. Another ongoing threat remains to be heat related illnesses, many of which occur after migrants are abandoned by smugglers. Checkpoint agents also remain vigilant for smuggling loads involving tractor trailers as smugglers use holding capacities of trailers to maximize their profits, dangerously filling 50 to 100 people in non-ventilated containers for hours at a time. Law enforcement partners frequently observe the reckless behavior of smugglers attempting to evade arrest while jeopardizing the lives of those they smuggle.
Distressed migrants abandoned by smugglers are left in desolate areas when they are unable to keep up with the rest of the group. RGV receives phone calls from family members pleading for agents to search specific areas for their loved ones after being notified the person was left behind by the foot guide. Regrettably, there are instances when loved ones find help and return with assistance only to find their loved one has succumbed to the elements. Brooks and Kennedy Counties are approximately a 70-mile hike from the border and is primarily vast, desolate ranch lands. The area is notorious for migrant deaths, especially during summer months, as smugglers attempt circumventing the checkpoint on foot. Last week alone, 10 decedents were discovered on the ranch lands. This month, more than 20 people have lost their lives during smuggling attempts.
CBP officials also discussed the reckless disregard for human life held by human smugglers who “continue to try these brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger nor to the health of the citizens of our great nation.”