EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Federal agents have intervened in four times as many migrant “stash houses” this year in Far West Texas and Southern New Mexico as they did all last year.

The U.S. Border Patrol on Monday said its agents in the El Paso Sector are now up to 264 stash houses found during ongoing fiscal year 2021, compared to 66 in all of FY 2020. Likewise, the number of migrant apprehensions in stash house environments is up to 2,788 as of Wednesday, compared to only 487 in all of 2020.

Border Patrol officials attribute the skyrocketing number of stash houses to a general increase in illegal immigration this year.

“It seems that since we’re having so many more single adults cross, that’s why we’re seeing so many more stash houses,” Joel A. Freeland, a Border Patrol spokesman, told Border Report earlier this month.

A stash house can be a residence, a mobile home or an apartment complex a short distance away from the U.S.-Mexico border where smugglers take migrants right after coming over to wait for transportation to the interior of the United States.

The Border Patrol says the migrants staying at those places often live under cramped conditions, are given little food or privacy and have no protection against the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re talking about deplorable conditions, basic hygiene standards that are not considered. We’re also seeing in some cases sheds have been utilized, trailers have been utilized. In Chaparral (New Mexico) there was 67 in one trailer and there just weren’t adequate resources for humans,” Freeland said. “Those are the dangers we are seeing for those migrants and they’re just waiting sometimes days or weeks to be transported.”