EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Illegally crossing the Texas-Mexico border put hundreds of migrants in serious danger in September in the Rio Grande Valley, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
The Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol “continues to see migrants placed in dangerous situations by the Transnational Criminal Organizations,” officials said Tuesday.
The dangers to migrants being smuggled include drowning in the Rio Grande, being locked in inhumane stash houses, confined inside refrigerated trailers, or being abandoned or lost in the vast brushlands, authorities said.
“Additionally, [border agents] have rendered assistance to injured migrants following vehicle accidents or sustained while making entry,” CBP stated in a news release.
However, September presented additional dangers to migrants who reached the RGV, authorities said.
“Migrants reported at least five incidents of robbery, near the riverbank, of money and personal belongings after they made an illegal entry,” CBP officials stated. “More than 30 migrants alleged during their apprehension, they were threatened with a knife or bat. In two of the events, they were robbed by a sole offender, the other events were orchestrated by a bandit duo. They stated they were released after turning over whatever they had of value.”
The RGV sector of Border Patrol deployed additional agents and resources to the area and has been working with other law enforcement entities to identify and apprehend the individuals.
The dangers of sexual assaults have affected migrants of all genders, officials warned.
“Additionally, individuals, male and female, continue to claim having been sexually assaulted at migrant stash houses or in the brush on both sides of the river,” CBP stated. “Individuals also claim the sexual assault happened in the brush while walking around the Border Patrol Checkpoints. Some victims reported the sexual assault was perpetrated by their own foot guide, others reported by individuals encountered in the brush after getting lost or separated from their group.”
CBP said that more than 215 migrants were encountered being smuggled in seven tractor-trailers in September. In four instances, migrants were in refrigerated trailers that ranged from 45 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, officials said.
“A six-year-old child with her mother was among the groups and two migrants from the Dominican Republic were encountered in a trailer’s air dam,” CBP stated.
Often, these trailers are locked or closed from the outside.
“The inability to free themselves has proven detrimental to people’s safety as we have seen in the past where smugglers abandon the load vehicle and migrants lose their lives,” CBP stated.