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Border Patrol finds migrants in storm drain tunnel in smuggling attempt

The city of El Paso has around 300 miles of storm drains, which range from 18 inches to 9 feet wide

Border Patrol agent
Border Patrol agent | EFE

August 19, 2023 11:43am

Updated: August 19, 2023 11:43am

U.S. Border Patrol agents intercepted 13 migrants hidden inside an underground storm drainage tunnel as they attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso, Texas last week. 

The migrant smuggling attempt was stopped on August 13, after police with the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) spotted several people leaving a storm drain outside Guillen Middle School. The school is located along the Cesar Chavez Border Highway, which runs along the Rio Grande River. 

The EPISD contacted the U.S. Border Patrol, which dispatched its Confined Space Entry Team, a unit that specializes in searching for migrants in tunnels or other potentially dangerous maze-like spaces, reported the El Paso Times. 

When the special team arrived at the site, they were able to hear the migrants speaking from the storm drain. The agents announced their arrival and ordered the migrants to exit the storm drains. 

Border agents arrested 13 undocumented migrants coming from Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador, the agency said. They were all medically examined and then processed accordingly under Title 8. 

It is not unheard of for human smugglers to use the tunnel system in El Paso to move migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border. The city of El Paso has around 300 miles of storm drains, which range from 18 inches to 9 feet wide. 

However, the Border Patrol has warned that the storm drainage tunnels can be dangerous for migrants, who can potentially get lost or trapped in the complex system of tunnels. Additionally, the tunnels can be filled with chemicals, toxic gases, or dangerous insects or animals.