EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) — A massive increase in stash houses, hard drugs and weapons are happening throughout the Rio Grande Valley, according to new data released by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In August, more than 10,196 people were apprehended by Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley, making it the busiest month this fiscal year for agents.
But CBP said this is nothing like what agents are used to seeing in the past.
“We’re not seeing what we saw last year with folks presenting themselves to agents, everybody is actively trying to get away, everybody is running from the agents, agents have to work very hard to make the apprehensions,” said Chief Brian Hastings, U.S. Border Patrol, Rio Grande Valley Sector.
In fact, Chief Hastings says Border Patrol is seeing an increase in almost everything.
“We’re seeing more stash houses, we’re seeing more commercial vehicles being used, we’re not seeing as many tractor trailer loads smuggling in the back of a tractor trailer, but we’re still seeing a lot of the aliens lives being risked by being putting them in the air duct of the tractor and on the inside of the trailer, stash houses last month alone we had 32 stash houses, and 133 so far for the fiscal year,” said Hastings.
Inside of those stash house and tractor trailers are not just people, but drugs too.
Meth busts is up 156% this year compared to last, according to CBP data.
“We have seen liquid meth in gas tanks recently, we’ve gotten some liquid meth in those. We’ve gotten them out of batteries, we’ve gotten them in some very odd locations where smugglers are trying to hide and conceal them,” said Hastings.
Valley agents have already seized 2,500 pounds of cocaine this year.
Fentanyl, the drug the DEA says only four pounds can kill up to 1 million people, is also on the rise.
“Hard narcotics are a very troubling trend that we’re seeing and also mentioned the weapon seizures,” said Hastings, “We had 17 last month, we’ve had 133, so far this fiscal year and that’s up 120%.”
To help stop the trends, the agency has added new technology like small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to detect activity quicker and also deployed 413 Office of Field Operations Officers from other areas of the country to the Valley.
“We’re working harder each day to get to a point where we are catching everyone we’re seeing through the area,” said Hastings.
Chief Hastings is also deploying agents to assist with Hurricane Sally.