Border patrol seizes drugs, nabs gang members, sex offenders as immigration arrests top 2M for year

In one single week, U.S. Border Patrol agents "arrested 14 gang members, two sex offenders, and a migrant previously convicted of possession, theft, and driving while intoxicated."

Updated: September 19, 2022 - 11:52pm

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Recent U.S. Customs and Border Protection activity connected to the U.S.-Mexico border includes the arrest of gang members and sex offenders and drug seizures as the number of "encounters" with migrants at the border surpasses 2 million in a single year for the first time in U.S. history.

According to Department of Homeland Security statistics released on Monday, encounters with illegal immigrants jumped to 203,598 in the month of August from 200,195 the prior month. Of those encountered in August, 22% "had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months." The total number of encounters for this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, is 2,150,639, according to DHS data.

In one single week, CBP agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector (RGV) "arrested 14 gang members, two sex offenders, and a migrant previously convicted of possession, theft, and driving while intoxicated," according to the agency.

The arrests included Alcibiades Romero, a Mexican national, who CBP encountered near Norias, Texas.

Romero was previously arrested in Mississippi and charged with "touching of a child or a mentally defective, incapacitated or physically helpless person for lustful purposes" in July 2014, according to the state records. CBP reported that Romero was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

His primary address on the state website is listed as the Jena/LaSalle Detention Facility in Louisiana, which is operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is unclear how he was able to get out of prison early. The ICE press office did not return a request for comment before publication. 

CBP agents from the Weslaco Border Patrol Station apprehended 13 "noncitizens" near Donna, Texas. Among the group was a Mexican national who had a "previous conviction for aggravated sexual assault of a child in Kaufman County and sentenced to 10 years probation."

On Thursday, agents from CBP's Office of Field Operations "seized heroin that totaled over $113,000 in street value in one enforcement action." News of this drug seizure was disclosed publicly on Monday.

According to CBP, the driver of the vehicle was arrested, and the case was "turned over to Maverick County Sheriff's Office for further investigation."

CBP agents from the RGV also made 20 arrests that "disrupted" four smuggling attempts. CBP announced that a McAllen Border Patrol Station agent on Sept. 17 observed a vehicle driving away from the Rio Grande south of Penitas, Texas.

"The agent initiated a vehicle stop and the driver responded by stopping abruptly at a residence and abandoning the vehicle and its occupants," read a CBP news release. "Four migrants, which remained in the vehicle were arrested for being illegally present in the U.S. The driver was not located."

On the same day, RGV agents encountered about 12 individuals who "fled into the nearby brush" after their vehicle came to a stop.

According to the agency, "agents apprehended five migrants, but the driver eluded apprehension."

Despite the continuing evidence of criminal activity and danger engulfing the border region, Vice President Kamala Harris maintains the U.S-Mexico border is secure.

"The border is secure, but we also have a broken immigration system and in particular over the last four years before we came in, and it needs to be fixed," she told NBC's "Meet the Press" recently. "We have a secure border in that that is a priority for any nation, including ours and our administration."

Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar rejects Harris' description of the situation at the southern border.

"The border is not secure, with all due respect to the VP," Cuellar responded on CNN. "Look, we get thousands of people along the border, from 6,000 to 8,000 people a day. They're releasing people, and we can send you pictures and videos of what's happened in Del Rio, the valley, El Paso and other places. People are coming in."

The number of illegal encounters for August has yet to be released by the CBP. Cuellar said that by the end of this fiscal year there will be 4 million or more illegal immigrants encountered by border agents since 2021.

"We have 1.7 million people that were encountered last year," he said. "We're going to have 2 or maybe 2.2 [million] by the end of this fiscal year in about two more weeks. That's almost 4 million people. That doesn't even include the getaways. Getaways are the people that border patrol has a good idea that evaded them. So you're talking about almost 4-plus, maybe 4.4 million individuals in two years."

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