US CBP agents arrest 69 migrants inside the El Paso public storm drain system

On Jan. 31 at approximately 8:00 p.m., agents assigned to the El Paso Station were notified of a possible illegally entry into the U.S. near an area known as Boone Storm Drain, east of the Bridge of the Americas international port of entry. Agents assigned to the El Paso Station Confined Space Entry Team (CSET) responded and initiated a search. They located an entry through a manhole near Interstate 10. High levels of chlorine were detected at the site.

Agents subsequently intercepted and apprehended a group of 27 migrants. Immediately thereafter, CSET agents responded to the same location for another entry. Agents intercepted and apprehended an additional 43 migrants exploiting the storm drains near Paisano Avenue.

A total of 69 migrants from Guatemala, Mexico, Bolivia, Honduras and El Salvador, including four unaccompanied juveniles from Mexico and Guatemala, were all arrested. All migrants were medically evaluated then processed for removal under Title 8.

“El Paso Sector Border Patrol Agents continue to successfully disrupt dangerous human smuggling schemes and the illicit operations of transnational criminal organizations,” said El Paso Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Anthony Scott Good. “The storm drain system is dangerous and poses serious risks to not only the migrants but to our Border Patrol Agents and law enforcement partners. Due to these risks, the El Paso Sector will deliver serious consequences to individuals that exploit the El Paso Storm drain system.”

El Paso Sector is working the U.S. Attorney’s Office to deliver consequences, through criminal prosecution and formal removal, for individuals and smugglers, that exploit the storm drain system and place agents and other law enforcement lives in danger. Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO) operating in the El Paso Sector exploit storm drain manholes within the city of El Paso to smuggle migrants illegally into the U.S. This is a trend employed by the TCO’s for many years. The El Paso storm drain system is large and complex, and migrants often get lost or encounter chemicals, toxic gases, insects, and venomous animals as they attempt to enter United States.

There are numerous risks involved with the cruel smuggling practices that TCOs employ, that can lead to possible injury or even death. The complex drainpipe system that travels from the city of El Paso to the Rio Grande River can transport toxic and hazardous substances that can pose serious health risks. Migrants also face the possibility of drowning or suffocation as some of these storm drains are only a few inches in diameter and pose a threat to migrants as they could become trapped with limited access to air.