Two people drowned near La Joya on Sunday, when they apparently jumped into an irrigation canal to escape Border Patrol.
Agents assigned to the McAllen Border Patrol Station encountered a large number of migrants south of La Joya early Sunday morning, according to a news release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“Upon making contact with the group, several of the subjects jumped into a canal in an attempt to evade apprehension,” according to the news release. “Agents observed two subjects that had not made it to the opposite side of the canal.”
Border Patrol and the La Joya Volunteer Fire Department searched the irrigation canal south of Walker Lake, but couldn’t find them. Firefighters conducted another search after sunrise and recovered two bodies.
During the past few weeks, large numbers of migrants started crossing the border south of La Joya, said police Chief Adolfo Arriaga.
While police don’t enforce immigration law, they assist Border Patrol upon request. Officers working Operation Stonegarden also target migrant smugglers.
“We’ve been getting swamped,” Arriaga said.
While local firefighters routinely pull bodies from the Rio Grande, it’s relatively uncommon for migrants to drown in the Hidalgo County Irrigation District #6 canal, said General Manager Joe Aguilar, who cautioned that he didn’t know any details about what happened Sunday.
Border Patrol had another close call at the canal on Wednesday morning.
“As agents made contact with the group, two subjects jumped into a canal and immediately began to struggle to stay afloat,” according to a news release from Customs and Border Protection. “An agent noticed the two distressed illegal aliens and rescued them by pulling them out of the canal.”