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Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents found 52 migrants in stash houses during a seven-hour period last week.

Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station agents working the border near Garciasville, Texas, on April 28 detected migrant tracks indicating a group illegally crossed the border from Mexico, according to information provided by Border Patrol officials. The agents began following the tracks north from the river.

The agents tracked the group of migrants to a suspected human smuggling stash house. Agents contacted the Starr County Sheriff’s Office for assistance in investigating the possible stash house operation.

While carrying out a welfare check on the residence, agents identified 10 migrants hiding in the home. All were determined to be illegally present in the United States, officials stated.

A few hours later, agents working with Starr County deputies identified three additional homes near Roma, Texas, believed to be operating as human smuggling stash houses. Authorities arrived at all three locations and found several migrants in each house who were identified as being illegally present in the U.S. Agents carried out immigration interviews and identified the 42 migrants as foreign nationals from Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

“With help from our law enforcement [partners], we will continue putting pressure on these dangerous smuggling organizations,” Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings said in a tweeted message.

Agents transported all of the migrants to Border Patrol stations for processing and possible expulsion under Title 42 coronavirus protection protocols put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Even with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, human smugglers continue to try these brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger nor to the health of the citizens of our great nation,” Border Patrol officials said in a written statement. “The U.S. Border Patrol agents of the Rio Grande Valley Sector will continue to safeguard the nation and community against these criminal elements.”

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