By Charlotte Cuthbertson
DEL RIO, Texas—In one week, 22,651 illegal aliens from 40 countries were apprehended in Texas near the U.S.–Mexico border, according to a Nov. 2 law enforcement report issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety and obtained by The Epoch Times.
The reporting week encompassed the seven days from Oct. 27 through Nov. 2, and according to the previous week’s numbers and a report from May, the numbers have been this high for months.
Law enforcement arrested 48 fugitives and 13 gang members. In addition, more than 4,000 pounds of marijuana, 669 pounds of methamphetamine, and 87 pounds of cocaine were seized. Also confiscated were 27 handguns, three long guns, and more than $188,000 in cash.
In the past six months, three separate currency seizures each exceeded $1.5 million.
The Border Operations Sector Assessment reports, labeled “law enforcement sensitive,” are issued weekly to law enforcement personnel and government recipients, but the public is kept in the dark about the extent of border crime and illegal activity in their respective areas. The reports emanate from the Border Security Operations Center, run by the Texas Rangers, which collates information from Border Patrol, as well as state law enforcement and participating local law enforcement.
Just shy of 22,000 illegal aliens were apprehended on average per week in Texas over the past four weeks—68 percent of whom were from countries other than Mexico. Extrapolated for a year, that would mean more than 1.1 million illegal alien apprehensions along the Texas–Mexico border alone. The report doesn’t estimate how many individuals evaded apprehension.
While illegal aliens from Central and South American countries tend to account for most of the apprehensions, the numbers from other nationalities are significant. In the reported week, apprehensions included 57 illegal immigrants from Turkey, 36 from Romania, 26 from Senegal, 14 from Eritrea, eight from China, and three from Uzbekistan.
The U.S. State Department lists four countries as “state sponsors of terrorism”—Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Syria.
Although a handful of illegal aliens are caught in Texas each week from the latter three counties, hundreds of Cubans are flooding across the border and claiming asylum. In the week of the report, law enforcement apprehended 610 Cubans entering Texas, and 551 the previous week.
The report includes a section with photos showing where law enforcement is finding drugs and cash concealed in vehicles. It also includes a section that outlines significant recent events in Mexico, including any large group of migrants heading toward the United States border and any cartel activity. In one case, the Mexican army arrested three kidnappers from the Gulf cartel who were holding 25 people in southeast Matamoros, the Mexican city across the border from Brownsville, Texas.
The report states that law enforcement was involved in 61 vehicle pursuits and 55 bailouts (in which a driver stops and the passengers scatter to avoid capture). The actual numbers are likely higher, as statistics from some counties aren’t included in the report.
The Willacy County Sheriff’s Office reported seven incidents of human smuggling within a five-day period. The county sits on a direct smuggling route to Houston, 30 miles north of the border in the Rio Grande Valley. Deputies arrested three human smugglers, turned 16 illegal aliens over to Border Patrol, seized seven vehicles, and were involved in four pursuits and five bailouts.
On Oct. 29, just north of Van Horn, Texas, law enforcement responded to a vehicle rollover that involved five illegal aliens and four other deceased occupants.
In the Big Bend sector, on Oct. 30, a Texas state trooper stopped a Chevrolet Tahoe and arrested the driver, who was under 18, for human smuggling. The driver admitted to being paid $2,000 to pick up the passenger, an illegal alien minor.
The reports also track gang activity in each border sector.
During the week, Border Patrol reported encounters with 11 gang members associated with the Texas Syndicate, Paisas, 18th Street, Gulf Cartel, and MS-13 gangs.
In the Laredo sector on Oct. 28, a convicted felon and captain of the Mexican Mafia Laredo Chapter was arrested while distributing narcotics and carrying a firearm. Law enforcement searched a related apartment and found methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. Several Santa Muerte shrines were located in the apartment, according to the report. Santa Muerte, or the saint of death, is often revered by cartel and gang members.
A second law enforcement report obtained by The Epoch Times that summarizes border activity from the end of May, shows similar trends, indicating the consistently high volume of border crime.
More than 25,000 illegal aliens, from up to 46 countries, were apprehended per week during a four-week period, with more than 70 percent of them from countries other than Mexico.
June 2011 Report
Ten years ago, the picture looked vastly different.
During the reporting period of June 15 through June 21, 2011, the number of illegal aliens apprehended near the Texas–Mexico border was 2,258—one-tenth of the current number, although the volume of drugs seized was significantly higher.
The illegal aliens hailed from 22 different countries and 34 percent were from countries other than Mexico—compared to the 68 percent in recent times.
Law enforcement arrested 179 fugitives and 15 gang members. Agents seized almost 35,000 pounds of marijuana, 237 pounds of cocaine, 57 pounds of methamphetamines, and almost five pounds of heroin.
The report also outlines three separate incidents—on June 9, 11, and 19—where Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement personnel in the Rio Grande Valley area were shot at from the Mexican side of the river.
The 2011 report contained more detailed information on cartel activity in Mexico than the more recent reports (16 pages versus two pages), including details about alleged cartel-related killings in Mexican border cities.
One example from June 21, 2011, described the discovery of a man’s remains in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso.
“A black plastic bag containing the head and genitals of a man was thrown from a car onto the sidewalk behind a church,” the report states. “The rest of the body was found the following morning on a sidewalk in front of an abandoned house five blocks away. The man’s torso was inside one plastic bag and his extremities in another bag inside a cardboard box.”
The Epoch Times submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Texas Department of Public Safety asking for Border Operations Sector Assessment reports from previous years.
The request was denied on the basis of a prior opinion that states, in part, “We agree the release of the submitted information would interfere with law enforcement.”