HIDALGO, Texas — Several migrants have been found to be using underground drainage systems in South Texas to enter the country illegally, according to US Customs and Border Protection officials.
Migrants, guided by smugglers, were found in drainage systems in Hidalgo and Brownsville on Sept. 13, officials said. Smugglers guiding migrants through drainage pipes is extremely dangerous, officials said, especially during hurricane season.
Border Patrol agents caught four migrants at a drainage pipe in Brownsville on Monday. The migrants told agents that there were other people that entered the drainage system. Agents tried but could not communicate with the people in the pipe, officials said. The Brownsville Fire Department was requested to assist and about 10 hours later, one person was helped out of a manhole, officials said. Agents were told everyone was then accounted for in the group and everyone was okay.
At about the same time, McAllen Border Patrol Station agents received information that there were people in the drainage system in Hidalgo. Agents responded to investigate the information and requested assistance from the Hidalgo Police Department. After a thorough search of the area, agents found fresh shoe prints of three individuals leaving a storm drain.
"Transnational Criminal Organizations using municipal water drainage systems to illegally smuggle migrants into the United States, for monetary profit, is extremely dangerous," a statement from CBP said. "Drainage systems can be filled by rain waters unexpectedly. Toxic gas, some that are odorless, pose a significant health risk. Sewage water contains bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can almost immediately infect an open sore or have devastating health related effects down the road. Drainage systems are designed to move water rapidly and not to be occupied by humans. Thus, air flow and oxygen may be restrictive, causing one to be easily disoriented or faint."
Agents in the Rio Grande Valley have rescued over 1,000 migrants this fiscal year, officials said. Officials urge migrants not to jeopardize their lives by illegally entering the United States.
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