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Sewer Smuggling: A close look at an El Paso storm drain used for migrant crossings

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- ABC-7 has previously reported sightings of migrants emerging from manholes throughout the Borderland, but we now got a closer look at the sewage drains that they're tunneling through, to end up in the U.S.

The UTEP storm drain is one of the many migrants use to travel through the city underground, officials say.

"The cartels and smugglers, they find ingenious ways to just open those flaps, get in, and they can actually come into any part of our city," said Efrain Mercado, U.S. Border Patrol Agent, part of the Confined Space Entry Team.

About two weeks ago, the U.S. Border Patrol Confined Space Entry Team discovered 12 undocumented migrants in a storm drain. Smugglers abandoned them to fend for themselves.

"They don’t care about the life of the person. They just open it up and they just tell them to walk, let them in, sometimes they don't even have a guide with them," he said.

With helmets, ropes, and air monitors, agents say they are prepared to go through the drains, but that's not the case for migrants.

"The fatalities we've had is mostly because of the air quality," he added.

Officials said the tunnels are ever changing due to construction, but say it's a passage they have always seen, affecting the most vulnerable. 

"Sometimes we have a hard time finding them. There's a lot of manholes, a lot of different directions these storm drains go to," said Mercado. "A lot of these are families and they're just trying to make it through like everybody else, and they put those children in danger."

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Brianna Perez


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