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“A Passage Below”: A look into U.S. Border Patrol’s special unit working in the storm drains

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Transnational criminal organizations are well known for using the sewer system as a mean of smuggling migrants into the U.S.

El Paso's storm drain system has been used by human smuggler and migrants to avoid encountering U.S. Border Patrol agents or U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

The U.S. Border Patrol's Confined Space Entry Team (CSET) is the unit in charge of going down to the storm drains, usually on days that it doesn't rain.

ABC-7 took a trip down to the city's sewer and storm drain system with CSET to see what challenges these Border Patrol agents face whenever they are called out to rescue or apprehend migrants who have been smuggled into the country.

According to U.S. Border Patrol's CSET Agent Efren Mercado, they have seen an increase in migrant numbers in the sewer system lately.

"We, sweep them or check them (storm drains), constantly to make sure nobody's using them. We check for foot sign in there, and, sometimes when we go in there, they've been using it for a couple of weeks, maybe a few days sometimes where we just bump into them in there," said Agent Mercado. "So, we're just trying to be on top of it."

Thursday on ABC-7 at 10, learn what other challenged this unit faces while trying to rescue migrants and avoid more illegal entries coming to the El Paso Sector.

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Heriberto Perez

Heriberto Perez Lara reports for ABC-7 on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.


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