At least 23 undocumented migrants have been taken into custody after US Border Patrol agents disrupted a smuggling operation in New Mexico.
Agents assigned to the Las Cruces border patrol station in the El Paso sector spotted a white van with kindergarten logos and stopped it for a routine check at a checkpoint on Interstate 10 on Wednesday evening.
The search of the car led the officers to 23 Guatemalan citizens who had previously illegally crossed the Mexican-American border.
The migrants were taken to a local station and returned to Mexico under Section 42, a policy implemented by the former administration of President Donald Trump that allows migrants to be returned across the border due to concerns about a massive outbreak of COVID-19.
Border Patrol officers in Las Cruces, New Mexico, disrupted a migrant smuggling operation by stopping a van with kindergarten logos and finding 23 undocumented migrants from Guatemala. The driver, a US citizen, was taken into custody.
All 23 migrants are Guatemalan citizens who were taken to a local station and returned to Mexico under Section 42, a policy implemented by the former administration of President Donald Trump that allows migrants to return across the border due to fears of a massive spread of COVID. -19 flash
All migrants were processed by CBP and sent back to Mexico.
The driver of the vehicle, identified as a US citizen, has been taken into custody.
He can be charged with conspiracy to smuggle, harbor, encourage and transport illegal migrants within the country.
“Relentless smugglers continue to endanger the lives of migrants by smuggling them into the United States,” Gloria Y. Chavez, El Paso Sector Patrol Chief, said in a statement.
According to data provided by the El Paso sector to DailyMail.com, during fiscal year 2021, sector agents stopped 1,304 cases of smuggling.
For comparison, since the beginning of fiscal year 2021, October 2021, 456 smuggling operations have been stopped to date.
Of the 518,360 migrant detentions for illegal border crossings reported on the southwest border in fiscal year 2021, at least 49,012 occurred at 11 stations in the El Paso sector, which are responsible for guarding 268 miles of international border miles spanning the Texas El Paso and Hudspeth counties, and all of New Mexico.
CBP said the migrants were found crammed inside a passenger van with kindergarten logos.
Smugglers in New Mexico stuffed 23 migrants into a kindergarten van before the vehicle was intercepted by US Border Patrol in Las Cruces on Wednesday evening.
Border Patrol officers in Las Cruces, New Mexico, stopped a U-Haul truck on Monday and found 20 migrants hiding in the cargo hold. The driver was arrested, and the migrants were cleared and sent back to Mexico.
The recent smuggling incident followed another that also took place in Las Cruces on Monday, when border guards stopped a U-Haul truck driver and found 20 migrants hiding in the cargo hold.
These migrants were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Peru and Colombia.
They were given medical attention, processed and sent to Mexico under Section 42.
The driver, a permanent resident of the United States, is still in custody.
CBP became aware of possible smuggling at two locations in El Paso, Texas on Sunday. At least 132 migrants from Central and South America were found in a tractor trailer on Monday. CBP said there were two unaccompanied children in the group.
US Border Patrol agents investigating a human trafficking scheme found 132 migrants, including two unaccompanied children, during a traffic stop Monday in El Paso, Texas.
Agents assigned to the Isleta station in the El Paso sector disrupted another smuggling operation on Monday when they stopped a tractor trailer transporting 132 migrants to El Paso.
The group included two 16-year-old boys from Guatemala who were identified as unaccompanied minors.
A CBP spokesman said the children had already been handed over to the US Department of Health and Human Services Refugee Settlement Office.
The rest of the group, all single adults from Guatemala, were either sent back to Mexico under Section 42 or are currently being held by the US Border Patrol as they had previous convictions or an arrest warrant.
CBP reported 2,035,010 encounters with undocumented migrants who were stopped by US Border Patrol agents for illegally crossing the US-Mexico border between January 2021 and December 2021.