Border patrol officers in the Rio Grande area spotted 42 migrants marching in groups in Brooks County, Texas. Adult males, mostly single, walked through the dense brush to bypass the border patrol checkpoint on US Highway 281 near Falfurrias. The area is known to many as the ‘Desert of the Dead’ due to the number of migrants who perish each year from the elements on this trek.
On Tuesday, a border patrol helicopter assisted officers in tracking and following the group to the point of apprehension. Often, smugglers leave behind injured migrants who slow down the progress of a group. They often face a gruesome fate and succumb to the elements. The region leads the nation in the recovery of the corpses of migrants.
This year, due to the sharp increase along the southwest border, the number of deceased migrants recovered in the county has more than doubled from 2020. Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez said his deputies had dealt with the death scenes of more than 100 migrants in October 2021, compared to 34 in 2020.
When the remains are identified, attempts are made to return the deceased migrants to relatives in their country of origin. Unidentified bodies are buried in graves of the poor at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Brooks County.
In addition to the migrants who succumb to the elements, there are more disturbing deaths. In October, deputies to Sheriff Martinez were dispatched to investigate a migrant found hanging from a tree along the paths leading to the checkpoint. This matter is still under investigation.
In a single traffic accident involving a human smuggler in the county, 10 migrants died and 20 were seriously injured when the driver of a van lost control.
The Rio Grande valley sector is leading the nation in apprehension without any sign of retreating. In October, more than 45,000 people were arrested. The increase in arrests has increased by more than 150% since October 2020.
Randy Clark is a 32 year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he was Division Chief of Law Enforcement Operations, directing the operations of nine border patrol stations in the Del Rio, Texas area. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.