By Bethany Blankley
Law enforcement officers have arrested 353 individuals attempting to enter the U.S. illegally with known sex-related criminal convictions so far this year, according to Border Patrol. Some were previously convicted of committing crimes against a minor.
This number is up from 156 criminal sex offenders apprehended in 2020, and 58 apprehended in 2019.
Convicted criminals are the most likely among those seeking to avoid capture by Border Patrol, Acting Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told attendees at a recent State of the Border address in Del Rio, Texas.
More than 250,000 people have evaded capture so far this year, Ortiz said.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t read a paper or a report from my agents that talks about criminal aliens, sexual offenders that they’ve apprehended out there,” Ortiz said.
“Those folks aren’t getting released in these communities. Guess what happens to them? They go to jail. When they get out of jail, they go back to their country of origin.”
However, many of the criminals who were previously deported return to enter the U.S. illegally, sometimes multiple times, according to Border Patrol data.
Among examples, three recent arrests in June were cited. On June 14, a child rapist from Peru was arrested by Border Patrol near the border town of Roma, Texas. He had already been deported in 2020 after serving over five years for felony rape of a child in Idaho.
On June 20, Mexican national Isidro Efrain Gallardo-Rangel was apprehended as part of a group of 24 who entered the U.S. illegally near another border town of Laredo. A registered sex offender with an extensive criminal history, he was previously convicted of indecency with a child in 2018 in Dallas.
On June 24, convicted sex offender and Mexican national Benito Gomez-Lopez was arrested by agents in the border town of Rio Grande City after having been arrested last May by the North Dakota Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department and repatriated to Mexico last July.
The Del Rio Sector in Texas is the second busiest, after the Rio Grande Valley sector, chief Austin Skero said.
Since January, the sector has apprehended 144,000 people, he said. While the sector has experienced surges before, he said, “It’s never been this bad. I’ll tell you that straight up, I’ve never seen it this bad.”
The Del Rio sector alone has seen a 1,400% increase in the number of sex offenders arrested by Border Patrol agents.
Since Gov. Greg Abbott initiated Operation Lone Star in March, and through June 3, DPS has made 1,489 criminal arrests.
State Troopers have been involved in 340 vehicle pursuits along the border and have encountered 630 vehicle bailouts, where those in the vehicle scatter into the brush to avoid capture.
Disaster declarations have been issued for 34 counties inundated with cross-border crime and illegal immigration.
Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey have asked other governors to send law enforcement to help apprehend criminals. So far, Republican governors from at least seven states have pledged to send law enforcement personnel or National Guard troops to Texas and Arizona.