A massive group of 704 migrants — including unaccompanied children — crossed over the southern border into Texas Thursday morning, US Border Patrol said.
The group flooded over the Rio Grande River illegally, making their way into a ranch near Eagle Pass just after 3 a.m., according to the agency.
Border Patrol took 535 Cubans, 74 Nicaraguans, 49 Colombians, 31 Dominicans, nine Peruvians, three Ecuadorians and three Mexicans into custody.
“An extensive breakdown of the group revealed there were 320 single males, 190 single females, 74 family units, and 12 unaccompanied children,” said agency spokesman Dennis Smith.
The sheer size of the migrant mob stunned Border Patrol agents, who have become accustomed to so-called “large groups” — or more than 100 migrants.
Border Patrol believes the large groups are used by cartels to tie up agents and resources so the criminal organizations can move drugs or other immigrants into the country.
“The logistics required to transport and process groups of this size continues to place a strain on manpower and resources, as they are often encountered in desolate areas inaccessible to large transport vehicles,” the Border Patrol said in a press release in October.
Once a rarity, large migrant groups have become more common in the last year, according to Border Patrol statistics.
Agents in the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley encountered more than 130 large groups illegally entering the US the last year, resulting in more than 21,000 migrant apprehensions.
Over 2 million migrants crossed the US southern border in the 2022 fiscal year, a record never seen before. That’s compared to just 1.7 million migrants that crossed in 2021, according to agency statistics.
Those numbers are expected to increase once Title 42, a Trump-era COVID policy used to expel about 40% of migrants who enter the country illegally, ends Dec. 21.