Annual Migrant Deaths in Texas County 80 Miles from Border Jumps to 26

Cindy Vanessa Mendez kneels over her father's body. Omar Mendez Perez died after being left behind by human smugglers after he fell ill and was unable to keep up. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)
File Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office/Deputy Elias Pompa

The deaths of migrants in one Texas county located 80 miles north of the Mexican border continues to rise at an alarming rate. During the first four months of 2021, Brooks County Sheriff’s Office deputies recovered the bodies or remains of 26 deceased migrants. This compares to 34 deaths for all of 2020.

In March, Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez told Breitbart Texas he expected the number of deaths to rise because of increasing temperatures and the larger number of migrants being smuggled through the county. At that time, the Brooks County death toll stood at 18. That number currently stands at 26 as of April 30, reports from the sheriff’s office reveal.

“The higher volume of human smuggling activity and the increasingly warmer temperatures are leading to the deaths of more migrants in this county,” Sheriff Martinez told Breitbart Texas this week. “As the summer approaches, we expect to see the number of migrant deaths to continue to rise sharply. It is possible we could exceed last year’s total of 34 deaths by mid-year.”

Martinez blames the growing death toll on the government’s refusal to secure the border and end the massively increasing numbers of migrants being smuggled around the Border Patrol interior checkpoint located in the middle of his county.

“Border Patrol agents have been pulled from Brooks [County] to deal with the surge of minors and migrant families crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley,” the sheriff continued. “This increased the likelihood of deaths on the ranches that surround the Highway 281 checkpoint as human smugglers abandon anyone who gets injured, dehydrated, overheated, or for any other reason cannot keep up.”

Ken Oliver, Senior Director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Immigration, agreed with Martinez.

“The hottest months are still coming up. I tell you this because President Biden and his administration have blood on their hands. People are dying because of what he has done,” Oliver said during a press conference hosted by Bienvenido. “By his words and actions, President Biden was the one who did just what the human smugglers, the coyotes, needed to entice vulnerable migrants to make the trek north.”

In April, the bodies or remains of eight migrants were found in Brooks County, reports indicate. Some of those died just hours or minutes before being found.

One example occurred on April 29 when Falfurrias Station Border Patrol agents began searching for a group of three migrants lost on a ranch off U.S. Highway 285 near Falfurrias. Agents utilized GPS information to reach the lost migrants within an hour of being dispatched. By that time, one of the three men had died.

The two migrants traveling with the decedent stated the man was known to them as Javier Garcia Gorrsquieta, a Mexican national. He appeared to be in his early 30s, the sheriff’s office report states. He did not carry any identification.

Many of the deaths this month were found to be skeletal remains that animals had scattered. Others were people who had recently died.

“These are the sights and smells that our deputies and Border Patrol agents have to deal with,” Martinez said. “It doesn’t matter how many times you see it, it still impacts you.”

The migrant bodies and remains found in Brooks County are transported to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy and formal identification.

Brooks County deputies recovered 34 deceased migrants in 2019 — down from 45 in 2019 and 49 in 2018. The number of deaths declined each year during each year of the Trump administration — a trend that appears certain to be reversed in this first year under President Joe Biden.

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 Facebook.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.