Border Patrol Agents Witness Smugglers Overcrowding Rafts

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NEAR PENITAS – Border Patrol said a river rescue conducted Monday night showed the latest dangers of crossing into the U.S. illegally.

U.S. Border Patrol said they rescued 11 immigrants after the rubber raft they were in capsized in the Rio Grande near Penitas.

They said they’ve noticed smugglers are stuffing people on rafts to move them quickly across the river. Agents said the number of rescues has increased and this kind of scenario is common.

A Border Patrol agent was on a riverboat when he saw several subjects in the water.

“The first thing I saw was mothers holding kids,” he said. “(The were) struggling to stay afloat. The parents were holding them up.”

Border Patrol said seven children and four adults were thrown into the water after the vehicle the raft was tied to on the Mexican side retrieved.

Agents said the two smugglers on board where the only people wearing life jackets. “There’s really no regard for the individuals that they’re smuggling,” he said.

Border Patrol agents onboard threw rings, ropes and life jackets to save the people that had fallen to the water. They said they know how dangerous the river is.

“(There’s) a lot of debris underneath. The currents are actually pretty strong,” he said.

Agents said they were able to rescue everyone in the water. Among them were seven children, including a 1-year-old infant.

“I made contact with two little boys, maybe 8 and 5. And they went down several times. I don’t think they would have lasted much longer to be honest with you,” he said.

Border Patrol said the people rescued are from Honduras and Nicaragua.


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