Authorities announced Saturday that it will continue their search for a Texas National Guard soldier who went missing Friday morning while assigned to border enforcement along the Rio Grande, The Texas Department of the Army said.
Snakeman is trying to assist two migrants who appear to be drowning in the river, The Texas Department of the Army said in a statement Saturday. Both are in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol custody and are accused of drug trafficking, the statement said.
A local official said Friday that the soldier was trying to help a struggling woman in a fast-flowing stream.
“He jumped to his death,” said Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber. “They never saw him out.
Search and rescue diving operations were halted on Friday night, due to the power of electric current. The search continued on Saturday.
The Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Border Patrol are continuing to investigate.
Strong currents created dangerous conditions for people trying to cross the Rio Grande this month, according to US Customs and Border Protection. Earlier this month, a Border Patrol Marine Unit rescued a number of people who had been “washed away” by strong currents, agency said.
Rescues often occur on rivers, and attempting to cross the border can be deadly. Schmerber said it is very common to find the bodies of migrants along a stretch of the river in his county.
The special forces soldier assigned to Operation Lone Star, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s controversial immigration enforcement mission.
The Texas governor’s office is working with the Texas National Guard as they search for the missing soldier, Abbott said on Twitter Friday afternoon.
Friday’s incident comes nearly a year after increased border enforcement along the Rio Grande as part of Operation Lone Star.
When Operation Lone Star launched in March 2021, Abbott said, “We will increase the resources and law enforcement personnel needed to confront this crisis,” blaming the Biden administration. policies that he says have invited illegal immigration and disrupted borders in a growing humanitarian crisis. .
The focus of Operation Lone Star is the capture and detention of border crossers. The effort has been strongly criticized for militarizing the border and interfering with immigration enforcement, a federal responsibility.
The guards themselves also complained about bad conditions in their questincluding major COVID-19 outbreaks.
Contributors: Tony Plohetski, Chuck Lindell and Katie Hall, Austin American-Statesman; Related press