Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
For the second time in two days, a large group of migrants crossed the border Thursday at the remote Antelope Wells area in southern New Mexico and turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents.
At about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, 115 migrants encountered Border Patrol Agents working at the remote Camp Bounds Forward Operating Base, according to a statement by the Border Patrol.
The Border Patrol is now saying that criminals are using some of these mass crossings to distract agents as drug mules move contraband across the border.
They say that is what occurred early Wednesday morning – just after midnight – when Border Patrol agents encountered 247 migrants.
The Border Patrol released more information about that group Friday, saying that the crossing had been timed to serve as a distraction so illegal drugs could be moved across the border just west of Antelope Wells.
With the help of Customs and Border Protection air support, Border Patrol agents seized 265 pounds of marijuana and arrested two suspected “drug mules.”
“Criminal organizations continue to exploit the loopholes in immigration law to distract agents with large groups of smuggled aliens in an attempt to move their contraband through a different area,” according to the statement issued by the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, which includes all of New Mexico.
The Border Patrol said most of the migrants in the mass crossings are Central American families with children and unaccompanied minors who are seeking asylum.
Fifteen families in Thursday’s group were reported to have requested medical attention shortly after apprehension.
A video released Friday by the Border Patrol showed the group of 247 crossing over a low fence designed to stop vehicles, with many tossing bundles of possessions over first. The video shows numerous children being passed over the barrier, as well.
“This is an ongoing situation that Border Patrol Agents face in southern New Mexico: hundreds of parents and children being encountered by agents after having faced a treacherous journey in the hands of dangerous smugglers,” the Border Patrol said.
The statement said Thursday’s group is the 25th large group consisting of more than 100 people apprehended since October along this remote stretch of border in New Mexico. Last month, a seven-year-old girl from Guatemala, who was among a group of 163 people, died after crossing the border near Antelope Wells with her father.