Remains of Suspected Unlawful Migrant Discovered in West Texas Desert


sparsely populated land surrounding border. | Image from Joey Ingelhart

On December 5, several deer hunters found decomposing human remains in a remote desert region in West Texas.

According to a report by Randy Clark at Breitbart News, the hunters subsequently called the Culberson County Sheriff’s Office from Van Horn, Texas, to report their discovery.

The deputies recovered the badly decomposed remains. Clark noted that the death of the suspected unlawful migrant will be added to the number of unattended migrant deaths the department is currently compiling.

Incidents like these have grown in prevalence during the present border crisis. Since February, Culberson County Sherriff’s deputies have investigated 25 unattended unlawful migrant death cases.

The Culberson County deputies found a wallet near the body with a Mexican identification card suggesting the deceased person hails from the nearby Mexican state of Chihuahua. Because of the suspected unlawful migrant’s state of decomposition, DNA tests will be used to determine the deceased individual’s identity.

Clark provided context to the harrowing trek that unlawful migrants must endure when entering the area.

“Culberson County is the fifth-largest county in Texas and one of the most sparsely populated, with less than one inhabitant per square mile. The sheer size of the county means most migrants crossing the border through the county will need to walk for days through a dry desert environment to avoid apprehension,” he said.

As a result of increased unlawful migration, law enforcement in border counties like Culberson have to deal with the uncomfortable reality of discovering deceased unattended migrants. Clark observed that these incidents come with costs of “recovery, transportation, autopsy, DNA testing, toxicology tests, and final funeral costs” that local taxpayers must assume.

According to Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo, human smugglers usually get rid of all forms of unlawful migrants’ identification, which compels law enforcement to use the tools of DNA testing and fingerprint examination to identify deceased migrants. From there, migrant remains are then placed in refrigerated storage until local authorities decide on whether to cremate the remains.

Searching over 3,800 square miles of the county when unlawful migrant disappearance cases occur is an arduous feat. Due to the harsh circumstances of conducting searches in Culberson County, Carrillo has joined forces with Aguilas Del Desierto (Angels of the Desert), a non-profit search and rescue group in San Diego, California.

The group comprises volunteers from several southwest border states and has reliably assisted the county in finding missing unlawful migrants in the area.

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