EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The U.S. Border Patrol this week rescued 51 migrants from two overcrowded stash houses in the El Paso Sector. That brings the total to 15 such clandestine migrant housing facilities busted in the first 19 days of the month here.
The leads for the latest bust came last Sunday, when a U.S. citizen driving through the Highway 185 Border Patrol checkpoint in Las Cruces, New Mexico, came under scrutiny. The driver was transporting four unauthorized migrants and, upon further questioning, tipped the Border Patrol to an address in Vinton, Texas.
Agents with the Integrated Targeting Team, the Anti-Smuggling Unit, the El Paso Sector Intelligence Unit and Homeland Security Investigations came upon the address on Monday and took custody of 20 citizens of Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hondurans and Mexico being held there. There was no immediate word regarding the capture of a smuggler.
On Tuesday, Border Patrol agents assigned to the Deming, New Mexico, station tracked another group of recently arrived migrants to an abandoned property in Columbus. The footprints led them to a small mobile home where 31 migrants were crammed inside, the Border Patrol said.
The number of known migrant stash houses in the El Paso Sector has grown dramatically in the past year, coinciding with record levels of unauthorized migration and the takeover of some smuggling operations by cells of Mexican drug cartels. Border Patrol officials said contractors hired on the U.S. side of the border by smuggling organizations often keep the migrants in cramped, unsanitary quarters with little food and no social distancing or COVID-19 hygiene protocols.
“El Paso Sector Border Patrol Agents continue to successfully disrupt the illicit actions of the Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs),” said El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez. “The endless exploitation of migrants by TCOs is inhumane and detrimental to our community.”
Last fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, Border Patrol agents in El Paso and Southern New Mexico took custody of 3,200 unauthorized migrants being kept in 306 such stash houses.
The stash houses can be anything from a hotel room to a house or mobile home.
Citizens are encouraged to report possible stash houses to the. Border Patrol while remaining anonymous by calling 1-800-635-2509.