Two boat crews. 52 miles of river. And a war without end. Mexican cartels on one side, Border Patrol on the other, searching for migrants making a quick dash across the Rio Grande.
It’s not a question of ‘if’ for Vessel Commander Deborah Villarreal, it’s ‘when’ and ‘how many?’
All along the river’s twists and turns, the eyes of the cartels are watching and waiting.
The agents said they often see their scouts posted along the riverbank. They’re also picked up by helicopters, cameras and surveillance blimps.
It’s a 30-second ride to America if they make it with a big price tag. And unlike the US, the Mexican side of the border is secure: the Cartels control it all.
The agents pointed out well-worn landing sites carved out of mud and reeds and took us to one they said is used often. Looking around, you have a sense of all the people that have come through here. Fragments of their journey and the lives they’ve left behind.
Agent Gerardo Lebron took us down the path they take from here — their path to America. Here they can walk or wait for
Border Patrol and give themselves up unless they run.