Although the Brooks County Sheriff’s Department has spent nearly $700,000 in body recovery efforts -- about half of the department’s budget -- Martinez estimates they recover less than half of all illegal aliens who die while being smuggled across the unsecured border in Brooks County alone.
“The sad reality is that many of those who are being led through the brush by the smuggler do not survive the demanding journey,” Martinez explained during Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
“In the past six and a half years, the county has recovered 443 bodies of undocumented crossers,” he added. “We estimate that we recover less than half of all those who perish.”
“From 2008 to 2014, Brooks County has spent almost $700,000 for body recoveries,” Martinez continued. “That is half of our budget.”
While hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border every year, crossings that result in death are all too common. CNSNews.com reported several deaths last year, including an 11-year-old boy from Guatemala found dead in Texas and a 32-year old pregnant woman who died along with her unborn child after being abandoned by smugglers in California.
During the hearing, Martinez went on to explain how Mexican gangs and drug cartels control the southern U.S. border and take advantage of unsecured areas to smuggle drugs and people across privately owned ranches in Brooks County, forcing local law enforcement to expend money and resources simply to recover those who don’t make the journey.
Despite law enforcement efforts, the problem appears to only be getting worse, Martinez warned.
“The Mexican cartels and transnational gangs continue to increase the level of organized criminal activity in the Rio Grande Valley,” Martinez said, explaining the cartels are “very active into the home invasions, felony evasions, extortion, kidnapping, sexual assaults of undocumented crossers and the recruitment of Texas children to transport drugs, people and stolen vehicles across the border.”