FALFURRIAS, Texas–Solid police teamwork led to the capture and rescue of over 20 illegal aliens who were being smuggled into the U.S. The smuggling cargo was about to be dropped a few miles south of the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint south of Falfurrias, Texas in Brooks County.
During a ride-along with the volunteer police officers who are serving as reserve deputies for the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office, Reserve Deputy Daniel Walden (Donna Independent School District Acting Police Chief) observed a cargo van driving at a high speed in an area known as a drop off zone for illegal aliens. He began to follow the cargo van through a series of suspicious turns that made no sense based upon the initial travel direction of the vehicle.
After following the van for about ten miles, Chief Walden finally observed a traffic violation when the van failed to properly stop at a stop sign. He then engaged his emergency lights to attempt to stop the vehicle. It quickly pulled over, but suddenly the front passenger door opened and then quickly closed. The van then took off and the chase was on. After about a mile, the van began breaking rapidly and drove off the road attempting to crash through a fence. He stopped short of the fence, doors flew open and people began to pour out of the vehicle disappearing into the dense scrub brush of mesquite and cactus.
Breibart Texas captured part of the chase and bailout in the short video below.
Walden rushed up to the vehicle and attempted to stop the people exiting the van. He was able to detain about five of the estimated 20-plus occupants. In a rare occurrence for this county, a back-up deputy, Elias Pompa, arrived within minutes. Normally the county has only one deputy on duty per shift covering about 1,000 square miles. At this point the group was located about thirty miles from Falfurrias.
Once the illegal immigrants were secured, Deputy Pompa went to notify a nearby rancher that about 20 illegal immigrants were on the loose near his family’s home. Border Patrol was notified of the bailout and responded with agents to take custody of the detained illegal immigrants.
The captured immigrants included a Mexican male, a Honduran male, two adult women from Honduras, and a 10-year-old boy from El Salvador. They had all been crammed into the back end of this cargo van which had recently been purchased in Houston. All of the captured immigrants were headed to Houston.
The immigrants had no idea what was about to happen to them if they had been dropped off at the original point where we began following the van. The Honduran woman with the boy said they were told it would be a 15 to 30 minute hike around the checkpoint to the rendezvous point where they would again be picked up by smugglers and taken on their journey to Houston. The reality is, the woman and the young boy were facing a two to three day march through soft sand with temperatures in the high-90’s. They had very little water with them and virtually no food. She became noticeably upset when she was advised as to what she and her child would have faced if they had not been captured.
If any of them, including the small boy, were unable to keep up with the guide, they would be left to die in the desert-like conditions of these dry ranch fields. The Honduran woman described her 11 day journey that brought her from Honduras to this point where she was captured. She was not aware of how much money had been paid to the coyotes to bring her and her child to this point.
The Mexican male said he was also headed to Houston to look for work and had paid about $2,000 to smugglers.
It just so happened, the bailout occurred under the watchful eye of a U.S. Border Patrol aerostat blimp. When Border Patrol agents arrived to take custody of the detained aliens, they informed the deputies that other agents would be dispatched to round up the remaining aliens so they would not be left to die while wandering lost in the fields.
This incident occurred about an hour and a half into a nearly 17-hour shift Breitbart Texas spent on the roads with Chief Walden. It was just the first of many interesting encounters we would have during this 379-mile road trip across Brooks County.
At about four o’clock the next morning, we encountered a Border Patrol BORSTAR tactical team. They told Walden they had been dispatched to the location of our bailout incident. With the help of the dirigible, they were able to apprehend over 20 people who had fled from the scene. BORSTAR is the Border Patrol’s elite team of tactical agents who are trained in Search, Trauma and Rescue.
Good, solid police-work by Chief Walden led to the capture of about 25 illegal immigrants including many women and a 10-year-old boy. But more importantly, by capturing them, he saved them from their possible death in the fileds due to a forced march through conditions they were not prepared for.
Last month, 12 bodies were found in Brooks County. Officials estimate they find about one out of 10 bodies. Hundreds of illegal aliens are dumped every night into the private property of ranchers living in this area.
Chief Walden heads up a new group of police officers who are donating their time and effort to help the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office which, because of the lack of funds, has had to reduce their paid staff to four patrol deputies. This puts an average of one deputy on duty per 12 hour shift covering an area, often without backup, of about 1,000 square miles. This county is only slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island. Walden’s volunteers, the Border Brotherhood of Texas, often drive 80-100 miles just to get to the county to help protect the residents of Brooks Counties and to backup the deputies who often work alone. They do this work for no pay.
Currently the team of volunteers has 14 deputies commissioned to work. They have many more who want to volunteer, but it costs about $300 per new deputy to get them screened, uniformed and equipped to hit the roads. Walden has recently established a bank account where he can accept donations of money or equipment to help this county protect all who live and work in this South Texas county. Follow the activities of this group of dedicated volunteers on Facebook as they work to save lives and provide security in Brooks County.
Breitbart Texas has provided extensive coverage of the illegal immigration invasion of Brooks County and the efforts of these dedicated volunteers who work closely with the regular deputies of Brooks County. This reporter would like to thank Brooks County Chief Deputy Benny Martinez for allowing me to ride with his deputies and bring you this series of articles.
Bob Price is a staff writer and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.