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FALFURRIAS In preparation for a brutally hot summer, the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector launched “Operation Heat Wave” this week.

The operation will enhance search and rescue efforts in an attempt to prevent heat-related injuries and deaths along the South Texas border. The Border Patrol’s Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) team along with members of the Mobile Response Team will be focusing on the Rio Grande Valley’s most dangerous corridor, the Brooks County area.

BORSTAR is the premier border search and rescue team along the southwest border. They are a specially trained, rapid-response search and rescue unit designed to meet the complexities of southwest border search and rescue operations. BORSTAR agents are experts in operating in the border environment, topography, climate and the distinctiveness of the southwest border.

Currently, RGV Sector has placards placed on windmills throughout the area. As part of “Operation Heat Wave,” additional placards will be placed on pipelines, fences, power poles and other landmarks in areas where a need for them has been identified. The placards contain information immigrants can provide 9-1-1 dispatchers, so they can be quickly located by agents.

In the summer months, agents see a rise in the number of heat related injuries and the strong probability exists for this trend to continue due to rising temperatures. Along with the heat, immigrant smugglers, who continuously prey upon the desperation of undocumented immigrants, contribute significantly to the problem. So far this fiscal year, Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents have rescued more than 100 individuals who have fallen into physical distress.

“Our agents are well-trained and equipped to operate in the harsh environment of South Texas, and not only strive to protect the American people from all threats, but to prevent deaths and stop unscrupulous smugglers who put migrants’ lives unnecessarily at risk,” said Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rosendo Hinojosa. “The Border Patrol and the government of Mexico are committed to the bi-national effort of educating migrants concerning the risks they face when attempting to illegally enter the United States and to informing them that help is available if they become distressed.”

Last year’s “Operation Heat Wave” saved the lives of 14 people. Additionally, the operation netted more than 600 illegal immigrants and was responsible for six narcotics seizures.

Immigrants who find themselves in danger while in the United States are urged to call 9-1-1.

To report suspicious activity, call the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector’s toll-free telephone number at 800-863-9382.

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