Authorities are increasingly finding large amounts of illegal immigrants in what is known as a stash house, a place human smugglers keep undocumented immigrants after they cross the Mexico/United States border illegally.
Last year 95,000 undocumented immigrants were apprehended by border patrol. This year 75,000 have been apprehended, and the year is only half over.
"These people are selling everything they own to get here and then we apprehend them. There is a certainty they will be returned to their country of origin," Agent Enrique Mendiola, Special Operations Supervisor of the Rio Grande Valley Sector said.
Mendiola said smugglers charge anywhere from a few thousand up to $50,000 to smuggle immigrants into the country, some coming from as far away as South America and China.
We TMve seen groups coming in from China who are paying up to $40,000-$50,000, Mendiola said.
The influx of undocumented immigrants is causing many local police departments to form task forces to help dismantle human smuggling rings.
That TMs another set of eyes and ears out there for us, Mendiola said. When they receive that information they turn it over to us so we can continue to develop it.
Mendiola said right now about 300 people are training to become agents in the area.
But it takes anywhere from 6 months to two years for an agent to become fully trained.
He said it takes more than adding agents to tackle the human smuggling issue.
If you see something, say something, Mendiola said.
Many residents can be apprehensive about making a call, but Mendiola said that call may save a life.
If you suspect a stash house in your neighborhood you can call the U.S. Border Patrol 24-hour hotline at 1-800-863-9382.