Texas National Guard dismantles human smuggling operation in El Paso targeting border crossing

The Texas National Guard disrupts people smuggling operations into El Paso by targeting a once safe crossing point just north of the border wall.

The owner of two abandoned duplexes near Loop 375 South, known as Border Highway, told the Post that his life has been threatened by cartel members since troop raids began on the properties, which led to dozens of migrant arrests.

“I got phone calls from Coyotes [people smugglers] on private numbers. They tell me I have to get rid of the police or I will see what happens to me,” said Joaquin Villegas, owner of the condemned condos.

Migrants had used its empty buildings after crossing the border to hide for an hour or two until smugglers could pick them up and move them to their next location.

“I found stragglers the other day; they told me they were paying $2,500 to go to Albuquerque,” ​​Villegas said.

Two migrants from El Salvador talk to an El Paso Police Department officer along the Cesar E. Chavez Border Highway.
James Keivom

On Tuesday, The Post saw a group of six illegal immigrants – including a small child – squeeze through a small opening in the border wall, about to make their way to El Paso.

However, when confronted by law enforcement, the migrants decided to return to Mexico instead of crossing to the United States and being arrested.

The Post also witnessed illegal immigrants who made it a bit further before being detained by members of the Texas National Guard and El Paso sheriff’s deputies. This group of migrants was sitting on the side of the road, ready to be taken away by the Border Patrol.

Migrants are turned back by members of the state police and members of the Texas National Guard.
Migrants are turned back by members of the state police and members of the Texas National Guard.
James Keivom

In addition to threats from the cartels, Villegas said the city also demanded that he prevent illegal immigrants from setting foot on his property – warning him that if anyone died, he would be responsible.

“How am I supposed to stop them…they can’t even stop them,” joked Villegas.

He also explained that he is required by the city of El Paso to clean up vacant buildings, which takes him hours every week as he picks up backpacks, clothes, shoes and household items from us. toilet abandoned by immigrants.

Owner Joaquin Villegas

Joaquin Villegas was prevented from renting the accommodation to tenants.


A message was left on a broken window of a house belonging to Villegas.

A message was left on a broken window of a house belonging to Villegas.


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Owner Joaquin Villegas cleans up trash

Owner Joaquin Villegas cleans up trash left behind by migrants crossing the US-Mexico border.


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Five hundred troops have been deployed by the state to secure El Paso since the mayor declared a state of emergency over the immigration crisis on Dec. 17.

Before the arrival of the additional workforce, migrants were regularly seen climbing the border wall. Immediately after arriving in the country, they had to cross the six lanes of the Border Highway where drivers travel between 60 and 80 mph, as often with fatal or near fatal results.

A family of five from Honduras have been sleeping on the streets of El Paso, Texas for the past four days.
A family of five from Honduras have been sleeping on the streets of El Paso, Texas for the past four days.
James Keivom for NY Post

El Paso has become the busiest border crossing in the United States, regularly seeing more than 2,000 people attempt to cross in a single day in December.

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