According to the statement, agents aided by the San Diego Fire & Rescue service found three migrants who had become stuck in a flooded drainage tunnel about two miles west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, around 11 p.m. on the night of Thanksgiving.
The three migrants informed officers that a number of other individuals had fallen down the drainage tube and become stuck. Fire rescue services were called to help remove the aliens as waters began to rise.
Agents heard some migrants calling for help and quickly pulled one female out of the tunnel to safety before locating additional people through a manhole.
Officials said they rescued a total of 13 more people from the tube and all 17 people were evaluated by medical services, while seven of them were taken to a nearby hospital for further treatment.
According to the statement, agents and San Diego Fire & Rescue services cleared the drainage tube system and didn’t find anyone else inside at the time so departed the scene.
However, two hours later at 1 a.m., agents heard a female yelling for help in the same drainage tube and fire rescue services were called again.
They discovered a woman inside the drainage tube while Border Patrol agents also found two more subjects near the exit of the tube.
The female was rescued from the drainage tube and taken to a nearby hospital but the extent of her injuries are not yet known.
Of the 20 suspected illegal aliens, 19 were Mexican nationals—15 men, three women and one teenage boy—and one man was a Guatemalan national, Border Patrol officials said. They will now be processed for illegally entering the United States.
The body of a deceased person was also found in the water of a beach near the west end of the Tijuana river on the morning of Nov. 29. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is investigating, authorities said.
“The lifesaving efforts of these agents, who bravely risk their own lives to save others, makes me proud,” Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison said in a statement after the numerous rescues within 24 hours.
“Inclement weather conditions and perilous drainage pipe water flows, significantly increase the odds of a grim outcome. These dangers are not important considerations to smugglers, who place an emphasis on profit over their victims’ safety. Simply put, it’s not worth crossing the border illegally and risking one’s life,” he added.
In a separate incident, a 16-year-old girl and her mother were rescued in the federal Otay Mountain Wilderness in eastern San Diego County late Friday morning, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The pair were lost without food or water in the mountainous area southeast of Otay Lakes Reservoir, and agents had to hike to their location and begin lifesaving treatment since both women were losing consciousness and were incoherent, officials said.
Due to the remote location and difficult terrain, they were pulled out of the area via an ASTREA hoist helicopter and taken to a nearby hospital for further treatment.
The U.S.–Mexico border has the highest number of both legal and illegal crossings of any land border in the world except for the Canada–U.S. border, according to Border Legislators.
Owing to its high demand, smugglers can earn between $1,500 to $15,000 for an individual who cannot obtain a U.S. travel visa legally.