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Border Patrol Apprehends COVID-19 Positive Mexican Drug Smuggler with Possible Drug Cartel Ties

Release Date: 
May 12, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today announced that Border Patrol agents foiled a drug smuggling operation in South Texas with the apprehension of two Mexican nationals, including one with possible drug cartel ties who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Our border security efforts are vital in containing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the American people during this health pandemic.  These measures are working,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan. “Our Border Patrol agents risk their lives every day and, in this case, they did their jobs and ensured these smugglers could not successfully enter the United States. Think about the alternative: potentially endless exposure and spread of the virus to innocent Americans with likely disastrous consequences from unscrupulous smugglers.  This is yet another example of why COVID-19 policies are so critical to the health and safety of the American people.”

On Friday, May 8, 2020, at 11:20 a.m., Rio Grande City Border Patrol agents in Escobares, Texas, apprehended two Mexican nationals as part of a drug smuggling case.  The individuals were transported to the Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station.  Once at the station, one of the two complained of migraines and was transported to a local hospital, where he tested positive for COVID-19. The second individual was asymptomatic and was returned to Mexico.

This is the second individual in CBP custody to test positive for COVID-19, following the apprehension of an Indian national on April 23 near Calexico, California.  

During this enforcement encounter, Border Patrol agents also seized 200 .50 caliber ammunition rounds. The ammunition was turned over to ATF.

The subject who tested positive for COVID-19 was arrested three previous times by the Border Patrol since late 2018, will remain in quarantine for observation before his return to Mexico. All agents, contract staff, and personnel who had contact with the subject were evaluated and found to have low to minimal exposure. Per CBP policy, they were directed to follow CDC guidelines for monitoring and quarantine if necessary. No individual has shown any adverse signs or symptoms.

Last modified: 
May 12, 2020