EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Federal, state and local authorities have encountered several migrant stash houses this month in the El Paso area, including a pair of apartments holding 30 people, the U.S. Border Patrol announced Tuesday.
On Sunday, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers stopped a vehicle carrying two undocumented immigrants and a U.S. citizen on Interstate 10 near Horizon City, Texas. Border Patrol agents assisted, and their investigation led to five migrants at a stash house in Clint, Texas.
On Friday, agents with the El Paso Sector Intelligence Operations Center led border agents to a possible stash house in San Elizario, Texas.
Border agents assigned to the Ysleta Station responded to the San Elizario residence and encountered five migrants. According to a news release, as border agents took the migrants into custody, a vehicle driven by a U.S. citizen pulled up, and, after being questioned, the driver allegedly admitted that they had dropped off migrants at that location before.
In both cases, agents arrested the drivers and expelled the migrants under Title 42, the public health rule that fast-tracks deportations of newly arrived migrants.
On Thursday, an arrest in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, led border agents in Las Cruces to three migrants in a motel room. Agents expelled two under Title 42 and arrested the third migrant on illegal reentry charges.
Two hours earlier, agents assigned to the El Paso Station’s Anti-Smuggling Unit and Homeland Security Investigations arrested 30 migrants in two apartments in the same undisclosed complex. Among those encountered were citizens from Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, and Guatemala, all expelled to Mexico under Title 42.
Border agents assigned to the Ysleta Station’s Anti-Smuggling Unit also assisted El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies, who executed two warrants stemming from a previous smuggling investigation.
Three people told deputies they had been held captive without food or water for three days before escaping on Dec. 1, just north of Horizon City.
Deputies said the three people led them to a home on Ascencion Avenue, where they found an additional five migrants allegedly smuggled into the United States.
On Wednesday, deputies agents arrested Martha Salas-Gonzalez and Raul Eduardo Martinez Lujan on suspicion of smuggling of person. Deputies booked both into the El Paso County Jail with bonds set at $40,000.
“Holiday season or not, Transnational Criminal Organizations continue their exploitation of migrants,” El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez said in a statement. “We have extraordinary collaboration among law enforcement partners in our region, and we will continue to be relentless in targeting human smuggling and trafficking of persons.”