National Security

Smugglers Treat Migrants as ‘Nothing More Than Cargo,’ Border Patrol Agent Says

Immigration official tells Laura Ingraham the journey to U.S. is dangerous each step of the way

Image Credit: LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images

Sophisticated criminal enterprises are smuggling illegal immigrants and endangering lives. And Jason Owens is on the front lines.

The acting chief Border Patrol agent in Laredo, Texas, said Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that his agents battle daily with smugglers who have little regard for the lives of the people they are smuggling.

South Texas, Owens said, faces the bulk of the cross-border smuggling, he said.

Host Laura Ingraham asked about a recent incident in which officers found 80 illegal immigrants stuffed in a refrigerated truck.

“This is something that we’re seeing more and more,” Owens said. “It’s a trend picking up of late. And it just speaks to the absolute disregard the smugglers hold for these migrants. But they treat them as nothing more than cargo or commodities, and they will stuff them in the back of tractor-trailers or in stash houses to transport them to points unknown.”

Tragedies have occurred as a result, Owens said.

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He said the journey to the border is dangerous and does not become safer once the illegal immigrants make it across. They often have no access to food or water.

“Basically, from the moment that these migrants step outside their door and they begin that journey north to get into the United States illegally, they’re in the hands of the cartels and criminal smugglers in some form or fashion,” he said. “And their lives are in danger from that moment on.”

Illegal immigrants drown every year, Owns said. They get exposed to extreme heat, he added.

“If they can’t keep up, the smugglers will leave them behind,” he said.

Owens confirmed that Border Patrol agents have stopped MS-13 gang recruits posing as children traveling alone across the border.

Related: Obama’s DHS Chief Knew Terrorists Likely Exploiting Vulnerable U.S. Borders

“That speaks to the determination of these criminals, these folks, that they will try and exploit any and every loophole they can to conduct their illicit enterprise, whether that be moving known gang members and criminals into the country illegally, moving drugs into the country illegally,” he said. “If they can find a vulnerability, they’re going to exploit it.”

Extreme vigilance is the only rational response, Owens said.

“The bottom line is, we just don’t know who they are until we catch them,” he said. “We don’t know what their intent is until we talk to them.”

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