Law enforcement officials on both sides of the border are investigating claims by a 17-year-old Guatemalan teen and his father that they had been held against their will by a human smuggling operation in Colonia Rancho Anapra in Mexico.
The teen was apprehended by Border Patrol agents near Mount Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, according to a Border Patrol news release. Agents noticed that he had facial injuries and began investigating further. The 17-year-old stated that he and his father were beaten while being held in a stash house against their will.
He said that he and his father attempted to escape, but became separated. The smugglers were able to catch up to him and began to physically assault him, the teen told border agents. He was able to escape again during the assault and ran north across the international border where agents apprehended him.
He said he did not know where his father was and said he feared the smugglers would hurt or kill him.
A short time later, his father was apprehended by Border Patrol agents while illegally crossing the border approximately a mile and a half from where his son had been encountered. The father informed agents that he had been separated from his son during an escape attempt from a house in Mexico and believed smugglers might have killed his son.
After the man provided the agents with his son’s name, the agents realized that he was the father of the assaulted teen. The father and son were reunited at the Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station and family members were contacted.
Border Patrol said a subsequent investigation revealed the location of the stash house where the two males claimed they were held and extorted for money in Colonia Rancho Anapra south of Sunland Park. Agents uncovered additional evidence supporting the claim that the father and son, as well as other Central American migrants, were being held against their will.
El Paso Sector’s Border Patrol Foreign Operations Branch relayed the information to the Mexican authorities and initiated a coordinated binational enforcement effort, the news release stated.
On Tuesday, Jan. 15, Chihuahua State Police searched the property and found a person locked in the house and unable to leave, the release stated. According to the Border Patrol, the stash house had several mattresses strewn about indicating many people had been staying there.
© 2019 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)
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