Several Border Patrol sector chiefs testified to Congress in recent months that migrants who cross the southern border without the help of human smugglers are often retaliated against by the cartels in Mexico, according to a transcript of closed-door testimony exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Border Patrol chief of the Laredo sector, Joel Martinez, for example, testified in June to the House Homeland Security Committee that in one instance, migrants who chose to not use the cartels were shot in between the eyes and had half their head blown off. Border Patrol agents along the southern border have seen a record increase in recent years, recording more than 2.2 million encounters of migrants crossing illegally in fiscal year 2022 and more than 2 million in fiscal year 2023, according to federal data.

“For starters, if you go down the river without their permission—every section of river has a boss that owns that particular part of the river. If you go down there without their permission, they can either beat you or hit you with, like, a paddle, and they’ve been known to shoot people, you name it. That’s how they—they rule through intimidation, so that’s a very common practice,” Martinez testified.

“The other day, we had two people wash up to our shores, and they had no identification on them, but we’re thinking they were migrants that went down there without permission. One of them had his head halfway blown off, and the other one was shot between the eyes,” Martinez added.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have blamed the Biden administration and its Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for the sharp rise in illegal crossings. Republican Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reintroduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas for a third time at the end of November, citing the crisis at the southern border.

House Homeland Committee Chairman Mark Green has been investigating Mayorkas because he’s allegedly been derelict of his duty in handling the southern border.

“Thanks to Secretary Mayorkas’ policies, criminal cartels now exercise unprecedented control of the Southwest border. They have taken advantage of his refusal to enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress, strategically overwhelming Border Patrol agents with illegal crossings in one area so they can push record numbers of people and deadly drugs across in another,” Green said in a statement to the DCNF.

“It’s no wonder that the former chief of the Border Patrol told Congress earlier this year that the cartels ‘control the border today’ because of illegal immigration ‘to a level that they’ve never had.’ And let’s not lose sight of the fact that the consequences have been disastrous not just for American citizens suffering from fentanyl poisonings and families shattered by illegal alien crime—the migrants themselves are suffering and dying in record numbers,” Green said.

The cartels control the traffic crossing the southern border into the U.S., making it extremely difficult to traverse the area without soliciting their help, the chiefs testified. Crossing without them often comes with a cost.

“The organizations that own those lanes get paid for every thing and person that crosses in that area. So they are afforded a payment for everything that goes through, and they don’t want to lose that payment. And so we have run into individuals who have been robbed or beaten when they’ve tried to make it through without contacting one of the people in charge of that area,” Chief Patrol Agent for the San Diego Sector Aaron Heitke testified to the committee on May 9.

Chief Patrol Agent for the El Centro Sector Gregory Bovino testified on July 12 that while it’s “uncommon,” crossing without the help of cartels would result in “consequences” for migrants.

“The transnational criminal organizations would apply a consequence to an individual that tried to cross without going through them,” Chief Patrol Agent for the El Paso Sector Anthony “Scott” Good testified on June 29.

Chief Patrol Agent for the Tucson Sector John Modlin testified on July 26 that agents in the area have come across migrants who have been “beaten” for trying to cross the southern border without paying the cartels.

Jennie Taer on December 11, 2023


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