EDINBURG, Texas – Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector (RGV) Missing Migrant Program (MMP) and the RGV Joint Forensic Center (JFC) were able to positively identify a deceased Guatemalan migrant found on a ranch in Falfurrias, Texas, through the use of innovative and unorthodox methods.
On Oct. 4, Falfurrias Border Patrol Station agents received a call from a ranch employee about a deceased person that was discovered. Agents and Brooks County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) deputies responded, and the decedent was ultimately transported to the Brooks County morgue.
A few days later, BCSO requested the assistance of the MMP to identify the decedent who was found without identification and was severely decomposed. MMP agents obtained a cell phone and fingerprints through macro-photography. The fingerprints were submitted to and analyzed by the JFC, but they did not match any of the fingerprints in our database.
The phone did reveal a contact “hermano” (brother) and contact was established with an individual in Guatemala at that phone number on Oct. 18. However, that person did not know of anyone who was travelling to the United States. He wanted to assist and advised that he would solicit assistance from the community through a radio station in Guatemala and agents provided him a contact phone number.
A man in New York called that same day saying he had a friend from Guatemala that was heading to the United States, but last heard from him on Sept. 25, 2021. He advised he heard the information while listening to a Guatemalan radio station on the internet. He believed his friend was left abandoned in the brush near Falfurrias, Texas. .
MMP agents were able to find a person matching the name, provided by the man in New York, on a list of missing citizens from Guatemala. They requested his fingerprints from the Guatemalan Consulate and through the JFC were able to confirm a positive match for the decedent.
BCSO, the Guatemala Consulate, the friend in New York, and most importantly, the family of the individual were informed of the successful identification.
This is only one of the many successes of MMP’s “reunification” mission. Although the program strives to save lives through the deployment of rescue beacons and location placards throughout the RGV’s area of responsibility, the successful identification of decedents provides closure to mourning families.
RGV Sector Chief Brian Hastings stated, “Migrants are constantly being put in these dangers situations by those who only seek to profit off this vulnerable population, with complete disregard for human lives. The effort and dedication by the MMP agents is exemplary and commendable, as it takes a special agent to fulfill the mission, especially in these sort of challenging situations.”