Search for Human Remains Continues in Brooks Co.
NEAR FALFURRIAS – Several entities in South Texas are working to identify bodies of people who crossed the border illegally.
This comes as U.S. Customs and Border Protection released details of an all-time low number of crossings.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS reported many people who cross die from the journey miles away from the border.
Alto Colorado ranch owner Tres Miller said he’s getting help from the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol and volunteers to find these people and bring closure to their loved ones.
Miller said he usually uses orange utility flags to mark the remains of those who didn’t survive.
“I use those for, if we find initial remains we start marking them as we do our search,” he said. “They collapse and die close to where they’ve been walking, and sometimes the people they’re with will put them in a shad of a tree.”
We were able to walk through the sand and brush with Brooks County Sheriff’s deputy Don White
“To lose somebody in your family without knowing what happened to them. Where they’re at and have nothing to burry, nothing to relate to in relation to their death. That’s pretty harsh,” he said.
White volunteers his time and searches for remains.
“Probably about a half dozen ranches we’ve been on lately,” he said.
Miller said he allowed White to search in his land.
“We found bodies out there before and we called the sheriff’s department that we’ve discovered bodies, because this has been happening for a long time,” he said. “It seems to be getting worse and I think it’s probably because the economic situation in some of the political turmoil going down in Latin America, in my opinion.”
Miller said he knows firsthand what people go through on his ranch.
“I’ve seen some really pitiful stories in my lifetime with some of these little 12-year-old kids come marching up there to the house, crying and lost, terrified. Two days out there in the brush,” he said.
Miller said these people don’t receive care in some cases.
“They’re just left there to die by the coyotes, in most cases, and no one knows they’re there,” he said.
White said he wants people to know what it’s like on ranch lands.
“If word gets back to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala on how rough this is maybe it will change their minds and the death rate will go down,” the deputy said.
Miller agreed and said a different tactic, like a border wall, may be useful.
“I think that wall will save lives. In my opinion, it’s going to stop a lot of the young and elderly to make that journey and they don’t realize that they’re risking their lives,” he said.
White explained they have found a total of 17 remains in Brooks County for 2017.
Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez also said they partnered with Border Patrol in their Missing Migrant Initiative about six months ago. Once the remains are found, they go to Texas State University for testing.
Martinez said they have found 548 bodies since 2009 and acquired 750 rescuers with the help from U.S. Border Patrol.
According to U.S. Border Patrol Southwest Border Statistics in 2016, it’s reported the Rio Grande Valley sector saw 130 deaths that year.