Border securityTexas smugglers say Trump's border wall wouldn't stop immigrants, drugs from pouring across the border

By Jay Root

Published 25 January 2018

If the Trump administration follows through on the president’s promises to build a border wall, would it actually stop undocumented immigrants and illegal drugs? Two former smugglers explain how they’d work around it.

Illegal border crossers scaling older style border wsll // Source:

Border Patrol Agent Robert Rodriguez is navigating his green and white SUV over a muddy stretch of road in deep South Texas when his two-way radio crackles with fresh intel.

“970 took a hit. Two bodies in an open field,” says an agent in the tactical operations center, five miles away in McAllen. Translation: Two suspected migrants who crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico were spotted on a surveillance camera and are now heading toward U.S. 83. It’s game on — for the third time in as many hours.

Rodriguez steps on the gas.

Minutes later, after a chase along a canal bank involving all-terrain vehicles, they’ve caught three men, including 21-year-old Luis Perez, who had left Cuernavaca in late September after an earthquake rocked central Mexico and destroyed his home.

Crouched in the shade of a Border Patrol SUV, a dejected-looking Perez says their young smugglers — teenage “coyotes” — abandoned his group in the dense brambles of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, so they decided to make a run for it. It’s his third attempt in 10 days, which means the jig is up. For his $8,000 smuggling fee, a chunk of which goes to pay a “tax” to the cartel that controls the territory here, Perez gets three tries.

“That’s why I was trying to get away,” Perez says. “If it were free, I wouldn’t care if I got caught.” 

Border Patrol Agent Herman Rivera, who was piloting the second ATV, walks toward the SUV with the fourth and final migrant from the group, a 20-something man he pulled from a briar patch closer to the river. The teen smugglers are nowhere to be found.

“It’s been steady the last few weeks,” Rivera says. “As of late, they’ve been coming no matter what.”

Welcome to the latest mecca of migrant smuggling on the U.S.-Mexico border.