Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector picked up MS-13 gang members and convicted sex offenders among groups of illegal immigrants they apprehended coming across the border over the Fourth of July weekend.
On Friday, agents apprehended a Mexican national after a rancher reported him wandering near his porch. It turned out the Mexican had been deported multiple times and had been arrested in 1995 in California for rape and was convicted, serving three years in jail. He was arrested in 2008 for the manufacture of methamphetamine and served 17 years in prison, according to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) release.
A day later, agents in Hidalgo arrested a Honduran who had been arrested for a DUI that resulted in death — for which he was convicted and served 15 years in prison.
On Sunday, in a group of 18 migrants near McAllen, Texas, agents found a Nicaraguan who had been arrested in Florida in 2002 and charged with sexual assault against a child and false imprisonment. He was sentenced to two years in jail and five years probation.
Just hours later, agents apprehended two Salvadoran men, including one who arrived as part of a group of 89 migrants composed mostly of families, who were members of the violent MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha gang.
The border has seen a significant increase in the number of migrant apprehensions in recent months, as well as the number of criminal illegal immigrants trying to get into the country. While CBP data shows how many are apprehended, it is not clear how many migrants are sneaking past border agents.
But agents have announced a number of arrests of criminal aliens, including child sex offenders and MS-13 gang members.
The MS-13 gang was set up in Los Angeles by Central American immigrants and has expanded across the continent — particularly in Northern Triangle countries like El Salvador and Guatemala. It is known for its particularly horrific and gruesome crimes, and its motto is said to be “mata, viola, controla” — which means “kill, rape, control.”
According to CBP data, there have been 6,918 arrests of “criminal noncitizens” by Border Patrol in FY 2021 up until the end of May, with four months still to be recorded in the fiscal year — significantly higher than FY 2020 (2,438 arrests) and FY 2019 (4,269). It is just above FY 2018’s 6,698 arrests and could exceed the 8,531 arrests in FY 2017 — although it is unlikely to exceed the 12,842 arrests made in FY 2016.
Migrants arrested coming across the border this fiscal year have so far included 353 convictions for sex offenses, compared to 156 last fiscal year and 58 in FY 2019.
However, the number of members of gangs such as MS-13 are actually down from prior years. There have so far been 217 gang members apprehended, including 55 MS-13 members, in FY 2021.
It is unclear whether that will exceed FY 2020, when there were 363 gang members, including 72 MS-13 members, apprehended. But it is unlikely to get close to FY 2019’s numbers, where a high of 976 gang members were apprehended, including 464 MS-13 members.