In Depth Report: The Bodies in Brooks County, Part 1


POSTED: Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 10:03am

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:38pm

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants cross through Brooks County, Texas every year. The truth, only about a tenth of them are ever caught. These undocumented men, women and even children are muled across the rugged, brush lands every single day.

"We don't know why. Brooks county for some reason is a funneling point, where everybody seems to be coming through," said Inv. Daniel Davila, Brooks County Sheriff's Department.

The goal of these immigrants is to get through the county unseen and undetected by U.S.. Border Patrol, County Constables, Brooks County Sheriff's deputies, and Falfurrias police. But in the past year, the most tragic issue comes from those who don't make it through.

"This year alone, this past year in 2012, 129 deaths, bodies that were recovered in the brush," said Davila.

One hundred twenty-nine people dead. Many of them died without any identification. So when they are finally found they get listed as 'unknown.'

In fact, it takes three binders to hold together the 2012 reports and gruesome pictures of those who didn't survive. People who were left behind by their smugglers. 

"You get sick, you start cramping, if you have a medical condition already if you are walking with this group, literally you are dead weight to them. They will cut you loose, of course here is water here is food, they say we'll try to come back, but there are not coming back because they already got your money," said Davila.

And once left behind, surviving can be near impossible.

Brooks county and many parts of South Texas are known for their extreme elements. A body will decompose faster in Brooks County, only taking about four to five days, in the heat of the summer when temperatures easily hit 100 and higher. Even worse, if the heat doesn't break down the body fast enough, the animals will. This rural ranch land is home to many prey animals.

"It is sad, I have been fortunate to have seen bodies that were just bones to bodies that the animals just have literally had their way," said Raul Ramirez, Brooks County Judge.

The 9-1-1 dispatchers do what they can to save those on the brink of death, but many times it's just too late.

Investigator Davila knows where the blame lies.

"These smugglers don't care, it is about the almighty dollar," said Davila.  

Human smuggling is a lucrative business in South Texas. Any Brooks County sheriff's deputy will tell you it's a sad truth, but in the world of human smuggling business is good.

"We are not up here to glorify what is happening in Brooks County, we are just here to say, Brooks County has a serious problem," said Ramirez.

Brooks county sheriff's department has less than ten deputies to cover over 950 square miles. With only two major highways, the majority of the land is brushy ranch land that deputies must have permission to step onto.



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