Border Patrol agents in the El Paso area intercepted dozens of human smuggling schemes this week involving nearly 300 migrants.

Agents were involved in 49 separate incidents over five days this week near the frontier city of El Paso, which has been overwhelmed in the last several weeks as thousands of migrants crossed the nearby border and set up makeshift camps in the downtown core.

In one incident on Jan. 11, Border Patrol agents at the Deming Border Patrol Station stopped the smuggling of eight migrants from El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico, who had been crammed into a black SUV. There was also one unaccompanied child among the group, according to a news release from US Customs and Border Protection.

In another incident in the same area, agents stopped six vehicles at a checkpoint in southern New Mexico. “During the encounter, several subjects attempted to flee from the vehicles on foot but were detained shortly after,” said the Friday statement.

In all cases, the drivers of the vehicles, some of them US residents, were detained on human smuggling charges, US Border Patrol said.

During the fiscal year 2022, agents in the El Paso Sector, which covers 125,000 square miles in Texas and New Mexico, successfully prosecuted 642 federal smuggling cases involving migrants. During this fiscal year, agents have already prosecuted 141 cases.

The agents were involved in 49 incidents over five days this week.
The agents were involved in 49 incidents over five days this week.

A migrant apprehended by a Border Patrol agent in El Paso on January 4, 2023.
A migrant apprehended by a Border Patrol agent in El Paso on Jan. 4, 2023.


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Migrants waiting to turn themselves in for processing by Border Patrol near the border wall in El Paso.
Migrants waiting to turn themselves in for processing by Border Patrol near the border wall in El Paso on Jan. 4, 2023.

A Border Patrol agent with migrants at the wall before letting them enter El Paso on Dec. 21, 2022.
A Border Patrol agent with migrants at the wall before letting them enter El Paso on Dec. 21, 2022.


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“Transnational criminal organizations continue to recklessly endanger the lives of the migrants they smuggle for their own financial gain and with no regard for human life.” said El Paso Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Peter Jaquez. “Human smuggling is a federal crime and the El Paso Sector will continue to work diligently with our U.S. Attorney partners in the West Texas District and the State of New Mexico to prosecute smugglers that endanger and exploit migrants.”

Many of the migrants in this week’s stops were returned to Mexico under Title 42, the controversial Trump-era policy that requires migrants to be sent back to the country in order to comply with COVID health protocols.

Immigration advocates have argued both that the policy violates obligations under US and international law to assist people trying to escape persecution — and that it is outdated as coronavirus treatments improve. The Biden administration is trying to end the policy, which is currently before the Supreme Court.



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