In the early morning hours of May 11, 2016 three bailouts occurred, each within two hours of the other. The first bailout at 2:00 AM, the second at 4:00 AM and the third at daybreak. Each bailout was preceded by felony pursuits where smugglers refused to pull over even as state and federal law enforcement police followed lights on and sirens blazing. In each case the smugglers eventually crashed their vehicles into ranch fences and headed inland knocking over small trees and cutting wheel-rutted paths through the brush. Usually, it’s a mesquite tree that stops the smuggler’s vehicle, but even before the dust settles one can hear people yelling to jump out and run, thus the term “bailout.” Smugglers pack anywhere from ten to twenty illegals in their trucks, vans and cars; and when the people run they scatter into the night. The US Border Patrol will send in a team of trackers and, if available, a helicopter will be flown in from the Rio Grande Valley about seventy miles to the southeast. Just hours after sunup on May 11, 2016 a Texas Game Warden was on patrol in the same area where the three bailouts had occurred the night before. The warden spotted a pickup making a suspicious U-turn on that lonely stretch of paved road and he decided to follow the truck in order to get its license number. The warden radioed the plate number to the Starr County Sheriff’s office in Rio Grande City some forty-five miles to the south. Within a minute the sheriff department dispatcher replied that the suspicious vehicle had been stolen out of Houston, Texas a couple of days before. The warden flicked on his lights and siren and simultaneously the pickup truck hit the gas pedal. Another hot pursuit was in motion. After traveling about a mile the pickup truck veered left and blasted through a ranch fence. Like the bailouts the night before, the truck launched into the air as it struck a mound of dirt and then it rammed into the brush at fifty miles an hour. The driver whipped his vehicle sharply to the left and paralleled the fenceline as the warden stayed on the paved road moving alongside and preparing for a possible gun battle. Then the smuggler’s vehicle lurched up and down when it hit head-on with a mesquite tree. The warden—who had kept the Starr County Sheriff’s Office abreast of the goings on—stopped his truck and jumped out, M4 rifle in hand and a Glock .40 S&W on his belt. The young warden scaled the high game-proof fence the smugglers had breached about a quarter mile back and then cautiously approached the stilled pickup. “They were obviously coyotes [smugglers] getting ready to pick up a load of illegals,” the warden said later. The stolen truck had already been readied for its cargo of people. The rear seat had been removed in order to accommodate as many illegals as possible. One 12 gauge shotgun shell was found in the truck but if the smugglers had a firearm they took it with them. The warden returned to his truck (scaling the high fence once again) as not to leave his vehicle alone where the smugglers could circle back and steal it. Within a few minutes a Starr County Sheriff’s deputy arrived to assist. It took five hours in nearly one-hundred degree temperatures to secure the stolen truck and have it towed out of the ranch and back on the paved road. As of this writing the coyotes have not been found. “If they’re veteran smugglers then they know how to escape,” the warden said. “But if they’re newbies they’ll be dead within a couple of days from lack of water and sunstroke.”
This morning (May 12, 2016) another bailout occurred near a crossroads called McCook about thirty miles south of my little ranch. A few days ago another bailout was witnessed in the tiny hamlet of San Isidro about four miles south of here. In that case the smugglers drove through the parking lot of a family owned convenience store and then almost crashed into a windmill across the road. A friend who oversees a small ranch west of here near the intersection of FM 1017 and FM 755 tells me that over the last few weeks there have been nearly a dozen bailouts at that location. Last night at about 10:00 PM we heard a helicopter (Homeland Security or US Border Patrol) circling to the east. We knew what was going on—another large group of illegals was observed moving through the brush.
When you hear the suits in the New York Media as well as the groups associated with various political factions telling you that illegal immigration is down then they are either lying outright or they are horrifically misinformed. Facts are that the US/Mexico border is as out of control as it has ever been. The New York Media will tell you that apprehension rates are down and from that statistic they erroneously conclude that illegal crossings are likewise down. This is just one more example of why agenda-driven news coverage coupled with an extreme lack of knowledge about US Border issues and the unique culture that makes up the Borderlands leads to the wrong inferences and thus bad news coverage. Let’s make this clear at the outset: If apprehension rates are down then all you know is that apprehension rates are down. But you do not know if illegal crossings have, in fact, lowered. Border law enforcement will tell you that nothing has substantively changed. The reasons apprehensions are down are numerous ranging from the politics of amnesty and presidential executive orders and what that does to law enforcement morale to purposeful fudging of the data in order to gain political advantage. Let’s also make it clear that the fault of our immigration problems is just as much with the Republicans (who want cheap labor) as it is with the Democrats who live under the delusion that “the Latino vote” is a monolithic and mindless group that will always vote Democratic. Regardless, it’s the Borderlands that are suffering as constant waves of illegals cross into the region to wreak havoc on ranchers, farmers and even city dwellers.
Take note of the map I provided. The South Texas Smuggling Triangle encompasses over a thousand square miles. The epicenter is Starr County but the triangle extends in to Hidalgo County to the east and Zapata County to the west. Affected counties also include Jim Hogg County and Brooks County. This is a harsh landscape divided by rocky outcrops along the south and the South Texas Sand Sheet to the north. Regardless, this land kills if given the opportunity. Whether from lack of water or unrelenting heat or from snake bites and a score of poisonous insects or simply shear exhaustion from trudging across a land that enjoys taking life whenever possible, the Smugglers Triangle always begs the question: Why do they attempt to cross an area so forbidding to human life?
Good Samaritans have placed 55-gallon plastic barrels filled with one-gallon water jugs alongside the paved roads that crisscross the Smuggler’s Triangle. I assume the barrels are placed alongside the roads to ease the illegal’s crossing into the United States. What these groups don’t seem to understand is that once the barrels are filled with water jugs and then left by the roadways they are essentially abandoned. Some of the Samaritans have complained that people have been “stealing” the water jugs from the barrels. Pray tell, how does one steal from something that has been abandoned? Regardless, I assume that people sometimes stop by one of the barrels for a jug of water. If people want to place water along the farm to market roads then that water is available to whoever wants it. Case closed.
So what happens next? Of course, this is election season and the spin doctors on either side are busy blaming each other for the chaos along the US/Mexico border. One guy wants to build a wall that will likely “create jobs” but will probably have little effect on curbing the human tide. And a woman candidate says she’ll keep the borders open—or at least that’s what she’s proclaiming this week. Lest you forget, after September 11, 2001 the American president did absolutely nothing to secure the borders. Federal and state law enforcement officials working along the border were aghast that Junior Bush abandoned the border to whoever wanted it. Have things gotten any better since then? Well, yes and no. The Border Patrol has been augmented since the Bush years. But simultaneous deferred deportations have made the problem worse. It’s as if the country takes a step forward and then three steps backwards. It seems that Washington DC has become impotent over the last couple of decades. An oligarchy wedded to corporatism where less than one-percent of the population pulls the strings for all the rest. When I was a kid the US population was around 165 million people. There’re not many people anymore who can remember what it was like to have truly open lands and an abundance of nature. The youth of today have no idea what real woods roaming is all about. How can they? They’ve never known it—not really, not truthfully, not tangibly. Today the US population is estimated to be around 340 million people. Population ecologists tell us the country reached its “maximum carrying capacity” at about 220 million back in the early 1980s. The date at which the US population will reach 400 million people keeps changing with the timeframe continuously revised downwards. If you think things are chaotic now then wait a few years.