EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Border agents have arrested 36 people in connection with a migrant stash house inside an apartment complex in El Paso’s Lower Valley.
Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations agents learned of the stash house after detaining three suspected undocumented immigrants near El Paso International Airport.
On Tuesday, the agents converged on a Lower Valley neighborhood address, where they found 32 citizens of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cuba crammed inside. They were all taken into custody along with a U.S. citizen whom they believe to be a smuggler.
Federal officials said the smugglers endangered the migrants by not providing for safe distancing nor personal protective equipment in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Border Patrol and HSI agents provided facemasks for the people kept at the stash house as they were being taken into custody.
Federal officials did not immediately disclose the address of the alleged stash house, citing an ongoing investigation.
However, they said the immigrants found inside the apartment may have entered the United States illegally through Sunland Park, New Mexico. Smuggling activity in that area just across the state line west of El Paso is a well-documented smuggling hotspot. Agents and former agents say a mountain called Mt. Cristo Rey that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border makes enforcement efforts difficult.
“This incident demonstrates that our region is being exploited regularly by transnational criminal organizations who continue to use humans for profit regardless of the inherent risks,” said El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez.
The investigation is ongoing and the Border Patrol encourages citizens to call 1-800-635-2509 if they have information about smuggling activity or other stash houses.