Deputies in Brooks County, Texas, recovered the remains of five migrants in the past month who died while attempting to circumvent the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint located about 80 miles north of the border.
In a period covering less than 30 days, Brooks County Sheriff’s Office deputies recovered the bodies or remains of five migrants who died on desolate ranches after being abandoned by human smugglers. The smugglers force the migrants to march through the soft sand and heat of the Texas summer as they attempt to circumvent the Falfurrias Border Patrol Immigration Checkpoint, according to information received from sheriff’s office officials this week.
Beginning on June 14, Brooks County dispatchers received information from Falfurrias Station Border Patrol agents regarding the discovery of skeletal remains on a 16,000-acre ranch located west of the city of Falfurrias, Texas. Dispatchers sent Deputy Jonathan Melendez to investigate the death and collect the remains.
Border Patrol agents met Melendez at the gate and escorted him five miles into the ranch. The agents led the deputy to the scene where he witnessed a human skull and other partial remains. Deputy Melendez collected the remains including a skull, one leg, and pelvic bones. He also collected a pair of blue jeans found near the decedent.
A local justice of the peace made the statutory death proclamation and the remains were transported back to the sheriff’s office to await being sent to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office in Laredo, Texas. There, Dr. Corinne Sterns and her staff will attempt to identify the remains and notify the family of the death of their loved one.
Five days later, Brooks County Sheriff’s Office Commander Jorge Esparza received information from a ranch owner about the discovery of a deceased person on property located near the checkpoint. Commander Esparza met Deputy Don White at the ranch. White reported he observed bird activity in the area that is consistent with the finding of remains in the area.
White eventually located the remains under a tree close to a fence line near a cliche road. Brooks County dispatchers notified Border Patrol and a justice of the peace.
Officials found the body in an advanced state of decomposition laying on his back under the tree with his arms outstretched. His shirt, socks, and shoes had been removed.
White found a wallet, glasses, shoes, hand sanitizer, and a cellphone charger near the body of the decedent, the report states. The wallet contained approximately 3,000 pesos and $100 in U.S. currency. It also contained a Mexican identification card belonging to a Raul Avilla Allerano, a 59-year-old man. It is not known if this identification card belonged to the decedent.
A search of the area uncovered a cellphone approximately 75 yards from the body.
The justice of the peace made the proclamation of death and officials arranged transportation of the body to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.
“People are brought here by the human smugglers and are simply not prepared for the dangers they face,” Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez told Breitbart Texas in a phone interview. “It is very hot. The terrain is soft sand that makes walking difficult in the best of times. There are cactus, mesquite brush, and poisonous spiders and snakes. And, water is almost impossible to find.”
“These smugglers could care less if you survive the trip around the Border Patrol checkpoint,” the sheriff continued. “If you become fatigued, dehydrated, overheated, injured, or for any other reason you can’t keep up, they simply abandon you and leave you to die.”
On June 24, dispatchers sent Deputy Jose Garcia to a ranch located northeast of the Border Patrol checkpoint, a known human smuggling pickup area after migrants circumvent the checkpoint. Ranch workers reported seeing a deceased person lying near a ranch road, officials reported.
Deputy Garcia arrived and observed the body of a recently deceased migrant. The report indicated the man died on his back with his cellphone laying on his chest. Officials did not find any identifying documents on the decedent’s person or the surrounding area.
A funeral home employee recovered the body after a justice of the peace made the statutory declaration of death and arranged transportation to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office in Laredo.
“These ranches are very difficult to navigate,” Sheriff Martinez explained. “Once you get a few hundred yards into the brush, everything begins to look the same. There are no landmarks you can use as a guide. Typically, the march around the checkpoint takes much longer than the smugglers lead the migrants to believe.”
The following week, dispatchers received information about another deceased migrant on a ranch located southwest of the Border Patrol checkpoint. The ranch is in a known area for smugglers to drop off their human cargo as they begin their trip around the checkpoint.
Dispatchers sent Deputy Lamar Villarreal to the ranch where Border Patrol agents escorted him 6.9 miles into the ranch. Once the team arrived on the scene, the deputy observed the deceased migrant lying on his back.
Officials found the man wearing a blue shirt, blue jeans, and work boots. They also found a water jug, a bag containing two apples, and a can of small sausages next the the man’s body. A search of the body led to the discovery of a black and gray wallet containing $13 in U.S. and $1,500 pesos. Papers in the wallet bore the name Margarito Gonzalez Rubio but did not have a date of birth. It is not known if these papers belonged to the decedent.
The deputy turned the body over to funeral home staff after the justice of the peace made the declaration of death. The funeral home will transport the man’s remains to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office in Laredo for an autopsy.
Finally, on July 3, Deputy Raul Narvaez received information about a deceased migrant found under a tree on a ranch located southeast of the Border Patrol checkpoint. Agents met the deputy at the ranch gate and escorted him approximately 5 miles into the ranch. The deputy observed the deceased male lying on his back. The body appeared to be in an advanced state of decomposition.
A search of the body and the surrounding area did not reveal any identifying documents.
The funeral home collected the descendant’s body and arranged transportation to Laredo for an autopsy.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face