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Human smugglers brag on YouTube; Texas border agents use video to bust them


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Human traffickers bragging on social media led border patrol officials to bust a smuggling operation in the Texas desert, according to a local sheriff’s office.

"Cartels were bragging on social media," Terrell County Sheriff Thaddeus Cleveland told the New York Post, referencing a YouTube video showing illegal immigrants rushing to a car.

"One of our agents saw it; we recognized the area, and it allowed us to come to this area about five miles north of Sanderson."

The YouTube video in question shows migrants file out of some bushes in the desert in West Texas then jump into a pickup truck. 

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Cleveland said Border Patrol agents tracked down the exact area of what authorities call a "lay-up spot," where migrants make a pit stop after illegally entering the U.S., the Post reported.

"This area is their last stop before they get picked up there at the highway, which is a couple hundred yards north," the sheriff told the newspaper as reporters toured the area. "There’s a very good canopy for shade as they wait to get picked up. This area provides great cover and concealment."

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Cleveland said that migrants will stop and wait at these "lay-up" spots until a car picks them up and takes them farther into the U.S. The sheriff, who oversees a county with a population of roughly 760 people, said migrant arrests have skyrocketed 540% in the last two years.

"They put all their trash in one location, cleaned it up; that’s not something we’re used to seeing," Cleveland said of the "lay-up spot." "They definitely were successful in this area, and they didn’t want to be discovered by agents or landowners with the amount of trash they have."

The sheriff said that a border agent pretended to be a smuggler and waited in a truck at the spot during the bust operation. He eventually honked the vehicle's horn and five camouflaged migrants ran from hiding spots and into the car, according to the Post. 

"Get on, get on," the agent told the migrants in Spanish, according to the Post. "Hurry! Hurry! Are there more?"

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But instead of being taken farther from the U.S.-Mexico border, the passengers were arrested.

Cleveland recently wrote to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott requesting extra support to help bolster his three-person team and the 50 Border Patrol agents permanently assigned to the area. The state offered to send Texas troopers to the region, but Cleveland’s hands are tied on posting a law enforcement officer at the newly discovered "lay-up spot" until the troopers arrive.

"They’ll come back and utilize those spots again," he said. "It’s a numbers game. They have numerous areas they use, and they’ll bounce around for a while until they think we’ve forgotten about it, but that’s why we keep checking them."

The Post reported that law enforcement officials had 7,400 illegal border-crosser encounters last year alone in Terrell County, in addition to 8,000 "gotaways."

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