At least 129 migrants died in Brooks County, Texas, in 2021, according to information received from sheriff’s officials. The number of deaths, including 10 who died in a smuggling crash, represents an increase of nearly 280 percent over 2020.
“This was a horrible year for migrant deaths in our county,” Sheriff Benny Martinez told Breitbart Texas on Monday. “Last year, we only found the bodies or remains of 34 migrants. This year, that jumped to at least 129 migrants who died in our county. It’s been the worst year since 2012.”
The 129 migrant deaths include ten who died when human smugglers overload a van with 30 migrants. The driver lost control and rolled the van into a light pole, ejecting several migrants in the process, Breitbart Texas reported in August.
The crash occurred on U.S. Highway 281 near Encino, Texas. The area is a well-known drop-off area for human smugglers who march migrants through ranches to circumvent the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint.
“This was a perfect example of the callous nature of human smugglers,” Sheriff Martinez said. “They packed thirty people into a van built to carry half that. The driver couldn’t control the overloaded van and ten people died as a result.”
“The coyotes could care less about the lives of the people they move through Brooks County,” he continued. “They march them through the ranches here in the cold of winter or the heat of summer. If a migrant falls behind, gets injured or sick, they just leave them behind to die.”
All but two of the 129 migrant deaths in this South Texas county located about 80 miles north of the state’s border with Mexico occurred after January 21 with President Joe Biden took office.
“President Biden removed all the guard rails put in place by the prior administration at one time,” the sheriff, a Democrat, explained. “Since that time, the number of deaths skyrocketed.”
By the end of March, the number of deaths in Brooks County jumped by 20 percent over the same period in 2020, Breitbart reported. By the end of the year, the increase grew to 279 percent.
“The governor’s initiative has been a good move for Texas,” Martinez said regarding Governor Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star. “We must go back to building the wall, adding technology, and putting Border Patrol agents back to work. We must secure the border.”
The 129 deaths in this single Texas county marks the worst year since 2012 when deputies in Brooks County also processed the deaths of 129 migrants. The lowest recorded number of migrant deaths came in 2012 when only 20 were discovered. During the Trump administration, the number fell every year from 52 in 2017 to 34 in 2020.