SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The U.S. Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector has received increased reports of migrants encountering armed bandits in the Otay Mountain Wilderness area, with three separate incidents in the last two weeks.

In one instance, agents apprehended a group of five migrants who informed them that they had been robbed by assailants who had rifles and pistols — agents on the scene reported seeing at least two of the possible gunmen running south of the southeast of Downtown San Diego.

Border Patrol says bandits are using weapons like these to rob migrants in the Otay Mountain Wilderness Area. (Courtesy: CBP)

The migrants reportedly stated they had been ordered to pay $1,000 each to continue their journey, but since they did not have the money, their cellphones were taken instead.

According to Border Patrol, on March 27, agents apprehended a group of 20 migrants who reported they too had been robbed by bandits carrying handguns.

Agents responding to the area observed three individuals walking south, within U.S. territory, and eventually crossing back into Mexico.

That same night, agents encountered a second group of migrants who said they had been assaulted and robbed by armed men who punched and kicked them, taking their money and cellphones.

In each of these encounters, the Border Patrol says all the apprehended migrants were medically evaluated before being taken into custody and then transported to a nearby Border Patrol station for processing.

“We continue to stress to migrants, do not place your life or the lives of your loved ones in the hands of callous smugglers or risk encountering thieves and kidnappers in these remote areas,” stated San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke. “There is only one safe and secure means of entering the United States and that is through a designated port of entry.”

According to Border Patrol, its San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch, a unit dedicated to working closely with foreign governments, has reported all these incidents to their counterparts in Mexico to “address these threats.”