Posted: Jul 1, 2014 7:07 PM
Updated: Jul 1, 2014 7:09 PM
BROWNSVILLE - Ranchers along the Rio Grande say immigrant smugglers threaten them constantly.
One Cameron County rancher said smugglers ordered him to look the other way or face the consequences.
The landowner said smugglers are using trails on his property to bring illegal immigrants into the country.
The rancher said he fears for his safety.
"You don't see anything; you don't talk to anybody," he said.
He said smugglers stop at nothing to get the immigrants across.
"They have no problem doing whatever it takes to protect them and their organization," he said.
Landowners said the trails are becoming increasingly valuable to smugglers because they are not patrolled as often and public lands.
More than 180,000 illegal immigrants have crossed into the Valley this year. The landowner said he and his neighbors are feeling increasing pressure by smugglers to turn a blind eye to criminal activity.
"They basically come up to you and say, ‘we are going to give so much a day and we will drop it off and you do what you want with it," he said.
The man said he turns smugglers down.
"Once they get a hook in you, they got you," he said.
The man said his only protection is to keep law enforcement on his side.
Border Patrol officials said working with or taking money from smugglers is dangerous and against the law. Those caught cooperating with a smuggler may face federal charges.