The Texas National Guard are disrupting people smuggling operations into El Paso by targeting a once-safe waypoint just north of the border wall.

The owner of two abandoned duplexes near Loop 375 South, known as the Border Highway, told The Post his life has been threatened by cartel members since raids by troops started at the properties, which have led to dozens of migrant apprehensions.

“I’ve been getting phone calls from Coyotes [people smugglers] on private numbers. They’re telling me that I have to get rid of the police or I will see what happens to me,” said Joaquin Villegas, who owns the condemned condos.

Migrants had been using his empty buildings after breaking through the border to hide for an hour or two until smugglers could pick them up and move them on to their next location.

“I found some stragglers the other day; they told me they were paying $2,500 to go to Albuquerque,” Villegas said.

Two migrants from El Salvador speak to an El Paso Police Department officer along the Cesar E. Chavez Border Highway.
Two migrants from El Salvador speak to an El Paso Police Department officer along the Cesar E. Chavez Border Highway.
James Keivom

On Tuesday, The Post witnessed a group of six illegal immigrants — including a small child — squeeze through a small opening in the border wall, about to make their way into El Paso.

However, when law enforcement officers confronted them, the migrants decided to go back to Mexico instead of crossing into the US and being taken into custody.

The Post also witnessed illegal immigrants who had made it a little further before being detained by members of the Texas National Guard and the El Paso Sheriff’s deputies. That group of migrants were sitting on the side of the road ready to be hauled off by Border Patrol.

Migrants are turned away by members of the State Police and members of the Texas National Guard.
Migrants are turned away by members of the State Police and members of the Texas National Guard.
James Keivom

In addition to threats from the cartels, Villegas said the city is also demanding he stop illegal immigrants from setting foot on his property — warning him if anyone dies, he would allegedly be responsible.

“How am I supposed to stop them…they can’t even stop them,” Villegas quipped.

He also explained that he is required by the City of El Paso to clean up the vacant buildings, which takes him hours each week as he picks us discarded backpacks, clothing, shoes and toiletries left behind by immigrants.

Property owner Joaquin Villegas
Joaquin Villegas has been blocked from renting the units out to tenants.

A message was left on a broken window of a house owned by Villegas.
A message was left on a broken window of a house owned by Villegas.


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Property owner Joaquin Villegas clears trash
Property owner Joaquin Villegas cleans trash left by migrants who crossed the US – Mexico border.


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Five hundred troops have been deployed by the state to secure El Paso since the mayor declared a state of emergency over the immigration crisis on Dec. 17.

Before the arrival of the extra manpower, migrants were regularly seen climbing over the border wall. Immediately after they had arrived into the country, they had to cross the Border Highway’s six lanes where drivers travel between 60-80 mph, as often with fatal, or near fatal, results.

A family of five from Honduras has been sleeping on the streets of El Paso, Texas, the past four days.
A family of five from Honduras has been sleeping on the streets of El Paso, Texas over the past four days.
James Keivom for NY Post

El Paso has become the busiest border crossing in the US, regularly seeing over 2,000 people attempting to cross in a single day in December.



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