Deming, New Mexico – U.S. Border Patrol Agents working a few miles east of the Columbus Port of Entry on Saturday located a group of Central American immigrants being smuggled in to the United States including a 12-year-old child being held against her will.
The incident began late Saturday when Border Patrol Agents from the Deming, New Mexico Station were notified of possible activity seven miles east of the Columbus Port of Entry. Camera operators observed a group of individuals as they made their way north across the International Boundary. Agents quickly responded to the area and located the group as they attempted to hide in the brush. Agents questioned the subjects and determined that five of the subjects being smuggled were from Honduras, while the other two were from El Salvador. All the individuals were placed under arrest and transported to the Deming Border Patrol Station for processing.
After arriving at the station, agents began the process of identifying all the individuals in custody. One of the individuals was a 12-year-old female who did not appear to have any family members with her. Agents determined that the young girl matched an alert that had been sent earlier as a female being held captive while smugglers attempted to coerce more money from the family. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents had also been investigating the potential kidnapping and they were contacted to verify that this was the missing child. Both the child’s mother and sister had already made their way to the Columbus Port of Entry to explain their situation and the loss of the child. They asked for assistance after smugglers in the town of Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico refused to return the child until the family paid an additional fee. The child was found to be in good health and was reunited with her family.
Meanwhile on that same date, Agents working at the I-10 Immigration Checkpoint in Las Cruces became suspicious of a commercial vehicle as it approached the inspection lanes. An alert was received that the vehicle was a possible match for an earlier hit-and run-accident with injuries. The vehicle was inspected and found to have damage that matched the description provided by New Mexico State Police (NMSP). Agents contacted New Mexico authorities who arrived a short time later and took custody of the subject.
Finally, Agents working in Santa Teresa, New Mexico and Fort Hancock, Texas were also busy as they were able to arrest a total of eight Mexican Nationals attempting to smuggle 320 pounds of marijuana.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.