U.S. Customs and Border Protection said smugglers are moving migrants through the underground water drainage systems in Hidalgo and Brownsville.
According to a Tuesday news release, Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents responded Monday to a drainage pipe in Brownsville where they apprehended four migrants. They were then informed that more people had been using the drainage system to enter the country.
The Brownsville Fire Department was called to assist, and after ten hours, one of the migrants was apprehended after being helped from the manhole. The migrants informed the agents that all of their group were accounted for and in good health.
At around the same time, McAllen Border Patrol agents were informed that individuals were traversing through the drainage system in Hidalgo. The Hidalgo Police Department was called to provide assistance as agents investigated the area, where they discovered fresh shoe prints of three people leaving a storm drain.
CBP warned against the risk of injury, particularly during hurricane season.
“Transnational Criminal Organizations using municipal water drainage systems to illegally smuggle migrants into the United States, for monetary profit, is extremely dangerous,” the news release read. “Drainage systems can be filled by rain waters unexpectedly. Toxic gas, some that are odorless, pose a significant health risk. Sewage water contains bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can almost immediately infect an open sore or have devastating health related effects down the road.”
Simply put, they’re not meant to be used.
“Drainage systems are designed to move water rapidly and not to be occupied by humans,” the new release continued. “Thus, air flow and oxygen may be restrictive, causing one to be easily disoriented or faint.”
According to the release, agents in the Rio Grande Valley have performed over 1,000 rescues this fiscal year. They are asking the public to report any suspicious activity in their area by calling 1-800-863-9382.