(CNSNews.com) - Border patrol agents say they continue to apprehend large groups of illegal immigrants, many from Guatemala, who increasingly are being led into remote desert areas of the United States by human smugglers who have deceived them with promises of financial gain and protected immigration status.
"Multiple areas along the Yuma and Ajo (Arizona) corridors are being exploited by criminal organizations," Customs and Border Protection announced last Friday.
Based on interviews with members of these large groups, CBP said a "majority" of the illegal immigrants have three final destinations in mind: Charleston, S.C.; Oakland, Calif.; and Homestead, Fla.
"This is a humanitarian crisis that is impacting border security,” said Yuma Sector Chief Patrol Agent Anthony Porvaznik. “Criminal entities are lining their pockets while exploiting a vulnerable population, filling our stations and diverting our national security efforts.”
Border Patrol agents say they are tracking the illegal immigrants around the clock, given the "significant" influx. "With more family units being smuggled into these areas, agents must divert even greater resources to care and treat those harmed by the arduous journey," CBP said.
Last Tuesday, for example, CBP agents rescued 61 people from rising flood waters; and last Wednesday, shortly after crossing the border, a mother in one of the groups died in front of her son.
"Migrants are suffering dehydration, illness, injuries and death at the hands of smugglers. Border Patrol agents are alarmed and concerned by the continuous influx of migrants found in life threatening and vulnerable situations," CBP announced.
In the last six weeks, Arizona Border Patrol agents have arrested:
-- 164 adults and children west of the San Luis Port of Entry on Oct. 2 (Yuma Sector);
-- 264 adults and children west of the Lukeville Port of Entry on Sept. 25 (Ajo Station)
-- 275 adults and children on Sept. 20 (Yuma); (CBP said 20 were hospitalized for back and ankle injuries, lacerations, lice infestation, and impetigo.)
-- 193 adults and children west of the Lukeville Port of Entry on Sept. 16;
-- 121 adults and children near the Senita Basin north of Lukeville on Sept. 9 (Ajo)
-- 163 adults and children west of Lukeville’s Port of Entry on Sept. 4 (Ajo)
-- 103 adults and children west of Lukeville’s Port of Entry on Aug. 28 (Ajo)
-- 128 illegal immigrants who had been abandoned by their smugglers on Aug. 20 (Ajo).
In August, 37,544 illegal crossers were apprehended at Southwest border, the most since May 2018 when 40,335 were apprehended.
In August, the number of family unit apprehensions increased 38 percent to 12,774, 3,527 more than July. In August, the number of family units apprehended represented 34 percent of all Southwest Border apprehensions, an increase from an average of 25 percent for the year.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection welcomes reports of suspicious activity from the community. The toll-free number to call is 1-877-872-7435/
The Ajo Station's area of responsibility encompasses over 64 miles along the international border and nearly 7,000 square miles of operational area, including the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Bureau of Land Management lands, Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range, and Tohono O'Odham Nation.
The Yuma Sector is comprised of 181,670 square miles of primarily desert terrain divided between California and Arizona. It covers 126 miles of United States Border, from the Imperial Sand Dunes in California to the Yuma-Pima County line. This area consists of vast open deserts, rocky mountain ranges, large drifting sand dunes and the Colorado River.