Border Patrol Agents Work to Prevent Migrant Deaths as Heat Rises

Border Patrol agents recover body of migrant from Rio Grande River. (File Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)
File Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Border Patrol agents are ramping up efforts to prevent migrant deaths as the heat of the South Texas summer begins to build. Agents are increasing crackdowns on human smuggling stash houses and the smuggling of migrants in tractor-trailers and other trucks.

Despite the increasing heat, the apprehension of illegal immigrants who cross the border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector (RGV) is on the rise. Border Patrol officials expressed concern as weather forecasters predict temperatures to exceed 100 degrees in the sector next week.

RGV Border Patrol agents have responded by increasing raids on stash houses operated by cartel-connected human smugglers and those who place lives in danger by smuggling illegal immigrants in the back of box trucks and tractor-trailers. Agents carried out 67 percent more raids on stash houses this fiscal year. They have also increased enforcement on tractor-trailers by 33 percent, according to information provided to Breitbart Texas by RGV Sector officials. The increases are year-to-date comparisons of Fiscal Years 2018 and 2017.

“The Rio Grande Valley Sector has recorded 57 deaths for fiscal year 2018, and the summer months are looming,” RGV Sector Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla, Jr. said in a written statement. “The victims in human smuggling will always be the immigrants; smugglers see them as a commodity.”

Officials are attempting to raise public awareness of the dangers posed to illegal aliens being smuggled in trailers and trucks as part of Operation Big Rig. As a result, a tip from the public last week resulted in nearly 90 migrants being rescued from the back of a tractor-trailer near Raymondville, Texas, Breitbart Texas reported.

Following the Tuesday night tip, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper stopped an 18-wheeler headed northbound on U.S. Highway 77. After obtaining permission to search the vehicle, the trooper found nearly 90 illegal immigrants locked in the truck’s trailer with no way of escape. After finding the human cargo, the trooper called Border Patrol officials and emergency medical services to evaluate and treat the migrants.

EMS officials told the local CBS affiliate that they transported two of the migrants to hospitals in the area. He said they also evaluated and treated 86 other migrants at the scene for dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Recent raids on stash houses in the RGV Sector resulted in the rescue of hundreds of migrants from the hands of their captors. Some examples include:

Border Patrol agents assigned to the McAllen Station teamed up with Homeland Security Investigations and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office to raid three houses near the border town of Mission, Texas. The combined law enforcement officials carried out the raids on Tuesday and arrested 52 illegal immigrants, according to information provided to Breitbart Texas by Border Patrol officials.

Rio Grande City agents teamed up with officers from the Rio Grande City Police Department to raid another stash house on the same day. Agents found and arrested six illegal aliens inside the house, officials stated.

One day earlier, Rio Grande City agents teamed up with officers from the Roma Police Department to raid a fifth stash house in two days. Inside the house, agents found eight illegal immigrants and took them into custody.

In total, the Rio Grande Valley Sector agents, working with local law enforcement officers and Homeland Security Investigations, carried out operations against five stash houses in two days. The operations to identify and disrupt these human smuggling activities led to the arrest of 66 illegal immigrants. Officials said these migrants came to the U.S. from Belize, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Peru.

Earlier this month, agents in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo Sectors carried out another series of raids that led to the arrests of 227.

Migrants are kept locked inside stash houses near the Mexican border until their journey to the U.S. interior can be scheduled. Often, they are beaten and held for ransom as cartel-connected human smugglers attempt to extort additional money from family members.

Nearly 60 migrants have died at the hands of these human smugglers during this fiscal year, officials reported. Agents are working to try and keep that number from rising.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGAB, and Facebook.

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