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Inside look at smuggling operation at the US-Mexico border

The summer months ahead in the Imperial Valley desert can be cruel and dangerous.

“We’re 60 feet below sea level 120 degrees is not out of normal. 120 degrees, it is damn hot," said El Centro Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino

But that broiling sun hasn’t stopped undocumented immigrants from crossing it in the past as they seek cities to the north. 

“They don’t care about the individual, all they care is about that dollar,” said Border Patrol Agent Jose Enriquez.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said coyotes are known to use cargo containers to transport as many migrants as they can. 

News Channel 3 stepped into the shoes of those making the risky journey after they’ve crossed the border illegally. 

Telemundo 15's Marco Revuelta along with 30 other members from the media, the Mexican and Peruvian consulates, and several law enforcement members spent about 5 minutes trapped inside. As soon as the doors closed, only our camera lights were the only lights and there was barely any breathing room.

“Think about hours in here when people have passed away and the cries for help, the oxygen starts running out,” one Border Patrol agent said.

CBP used a four-door sedan that was an actual vehicle used to smuggle people. CBP says they’ve seen up to five migrants in trunks and with the summer approaching they say this can be very very dangerous.

“So now you’re in there, there’s no room to breathe, no seatbelt, no water, there’s no restroom, you can communicate there’s nothing,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez says the temperature in the trunk can reach up to 150 degrees inside. Marco Revuelta stepped into the trunk of the car. He said after being hidden for several minutes in the car, he began breathing heavily and just wanted to get out. 

“What happens when the smuggler is driving and he leaves and chase and takes off, do they know where they’re going to be at," Enriquez said.

CBP says that on an average day they’re apprehending about 120 migrants crossing the desert. They say the number of deaths of migrants has decreased in the last year.

“We’ve seen a mass increase in arm smuggling loads for instance we’ve seen that's what we did what we did today, our agents are up against that every day,” Bovino said.

We also took on the role of a CBP officer trying to arrest an armed smuggler. It was a first-hand look at the dangers and unexpected challenges they face when they encounter human smugglers.  

As the unforgiving heat approaches, Bovino is hoping their warning message will deter people from crossing the harsh terrain. 

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Marco Revuelta

Marco Revuelta es un reportero para Telemundo 15. Lo puedes mirar de Lunes a Viernes a las 6 y 11 de la noche. Conoce mas a Marco aquí.


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