Migrant deaths while crossing the US-Mexico border have hit 500 this year, with 134 in just one area alone.
Extra Border Patrol agents have been dispatched to the desert west of El Paso, where deaths have skyrocketed in 2023.
Most have died from heat exhaustion during this year’s record breaking temperatures, perishing in the dusty desert expanses which offer little shade or protection from the elements.
“Smugglers were crossing (migrants) during the hottest part of the day, and some just don’t make it,” one agent said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
During one week in August five migrants died of heat exhaustion, federal sources tell The Post, prompting the agents from other areas to be transferred to El Paso, currently the fourth busiest border crossing in the nation.
The vast majority of the area’s 134 deaths are heat-related, the US Border Patrol told The Post. That number is up 88% from 71 deaths last year.
The nationwide total of over 500 in 2023 was first reported by the New York Times.
In one recent case in El Paso, agents found an unidentified Mexican man on a sweltering afternoon during a 104-degree day, the agency said.
The migrant was having seizures and did not have a pulse when discovered. Agents immediately began trying to revive him and called 911.
The ambulance arrived just nine minutes later, but the man had gone into cardiac arrest from his high core body temperature and died, the department stated.
In just one week in July, the remains of 10 migrants believed to have died of heat exhaustion were found across the entire border, reported the Washington Office on Latin America.
In Arizona, a 9-year-old migrant boy died who had just crossed the border south of Tucson started to have a seizure.
Despite being airlifted to the hospital, the boy died of multiple organ failure, the Border Patrol described in a June press release. The boy’s mother told investigators her son did not have prior medical conditions and had been in suffocating heat and without water for over an hour before he became sick.
Normally, human traffickers lay low during the hottest times of the day, opting to sneak migrants across the border when the sun has set and temperatures are coolest.
But this year — Texas’ second hottest on record — heartless cartel smugglers went ahead with illegal crossings despite used triple-dight temperatures in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
Just outside Texas, the remote region is a hotbed for migrant smuggling. There, criminals are banking on lower surveillance from Border Patrol due to the searing heat.
“[The dead] either get lost in the desert or left behind by coyotes (smugglers,)” the agent added. “We found some just feet from the highway.”
The agent was referring to New Mexico State Highway 9, which runs parallel to the US-Mexico border. Traffickers guide desperate and clueless illegal migrants across the border, sources told The Post, and instruct them to run to the road — in some cases just a few hundreds yards away.
Oftentimes, a car is waiting to pick up the immigrants and take them to their next location inside the US.
The smugglers slip back into Mexico and out of the reach of American law enforcement while the migrants sprint towards the road and to the get-away-car. However, sometimes the driver gets spooked and drives off or simply isn’t there in the first place.
This forces illegal immigrants, whose main goal is to evade Border Patrol, to stop and hope federal agents find them, while exposed to the glaring elements.
The Border Patrol, whose mission is to save all lives on the border regardless as part of its mission to keep it safe, slammed the Mexican cartels for their ruthless tactics.
“Transnational criminal organizations continue to recklessly endanger the lives of individuals they smuggle for their own financial gain,” Border Patrol Spokesman Landon Hutchens told The Post in a statement.
Human smuggling is a $13 billion a year business for cartels, the US government estimates.
Smuggler cruelty lead to the deadliest case of human smuggling in the US last year, when 53 migrants died as a result of being locked in an abandoned big rig in San Antonio, Texas.
Federal prosecutors have said the internal temperature of the truck reached 140 degrees, while migrants were without air conditioning, water and locked inside the box car.
“El Paso Sector has more than 150 agents trained as Emergency Medical Technicians or Paramedics. Every Border Patrol Agent is trained in first aid and CPR. Agents are shifted within sector to areas with increased migrant traffic as operations require,” the agency said in a statement.
Additionally, the department has also deployed 17 rescue beacons and 500 rescue placards in high-traffic areas so distressed migrants can get help even if they don’t have a phone.
Agents in the El Paso Sector have also rescued over 485 migrants this financial year, which started in October.
“We want to save some lives,” Border Patrol Agent Fidel Baca told KFOX-TV.
“When we’re patrolling out here in the desert we have to switch instantly. We have to change our mentality from a law enforcement mentality to a search and rescue mentality.”