David Martosko, Daily Mail (London), August 1, 2014
Dead bodies of illegal immigrants are turning up in south Texas as Central Americans pour across the U.S.-Mexico border, and a veterinarian who ranches cattle 70 miles from ground zero has the photos to prove it.
Dr. Mike ‘Doc’ Vickers of Brooks County, Texas showed some of the grisly images to MailOnline, all of them far too grotesque to publish unedited.
One picture shows a corpse propped up against a tree near his ranch in Brooks County, his eyes missing and dried blood cascading down his shirtless body.
‘This guy, obviously, had to lay down up against that tree, and that’s where he died,’ Vickers says in interview footage provided exclusively to MailOnline by documentary filmmaker Chris Dugard.
Falcons native to the Rio Grande river valley ‘plucked his eyes out before he was dead,’ the animal doctor concludes. ‘He bled out through his eyes, which tells me that he was probably in a coma but they were eatin’ on him before his heart stopped beating.’
Dugard is working on a sequel to his 2007 documentary, ‘Border,’ which made a splash on the film-festival circuit years before illegal immigration swelled to what President Barack Obama now concedes is a ‘humanitarian crisis.’
When he filmed ‘Border’ in 2005, he said, ‘we had to go out and find illegal traffic.’
‘This time it found us.’
He screened his film on Capitol Hill back then, telling members of Congress that children were becoming pawns in Mexican drug cartels’ smuggling operations into the U.S. homeland.
‘I am not surprised to find immigrants dying 70 miles north of the border,’ Dugard told MailOnline, but ‘I am surprised that nine years later it is still a secret to most of the American people.’
‘The Federal Government has long known about this,’ he said, ticking off Texas and Arizona counties where human remains are continually turning up.
‘Local officials who deal with collecting the bodies are so overwhelmed financially that the cost of coroner inquests on each case is dramatically affecting their budgets.’
Vickers, 64, told MailOnline on Wednesday that since 2012 his organization, the Texas Border Volunteers, has counted 259 dead bodies in his native Brooks County alone, including those of children.
‘And we’re probably only finding 20 per cent of them. A lot of people die out here.’
‘We find a hell of a lot of women,’ he said. ‘Three of the last ones who have died on my ranch have been women. We found a dead 12-year-old boy on my neighbor’s property.’
Some have the good fortune to find Vickers and his crew.
‘We’ve rescued some small children, quite a few,’ Vickers recalled. ‘One boy, 11 years old, was left behind 8 or 9 miles off the highway. He had no idea where he was.’ The border volunteers gave him water and arranged for U.S. Border Patrol agents to pick him up.
‘I’ve seen families out in my front yard under a tree,’ he said, ‘with little bitty toddlers with them.’
The group of about 300 amateur patrolmen go out in teams of up to 40 armed men at a time for 4- to 5-day patrols, reporting to Border Patrol agents and Texas Rangers on where the immigrant traffic is heaviest.
In nine years of scouring south Texas, no shots have been fired.
The closest U.S. Border Patrol station, at Falfurrias, Texas, is about 4-1/2 miles from Vickers’ 1,000-acre ranch.
An official in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency confirmed that in the month of June more than 4,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended at or near that checkpoint.
About 82 per cent of them were so-called ‘OTM’ border crossers–‘Other Than Mexican.’
More than 400 were children.
The federal government doesn’t keep statistics on how many dead immigrants’ bodies are recovered, the DHS official told MailOnline.
He conceded to MailOnline that ‘we don’t know how many people are dying without reaching us, just like we don’t know how many people are making it past the checkpoint without being detected.’
Most come from Central America and pay human traffickers known as ‘coyotes’ between $5,000 and $8,000 each to be smuggled into the United States.
Many don’t make it alive.
‘The fact is, they’re all homicides,’ Vickers said. ‘These people pay coyotes who are affiliated with drug cartels big money to be brought here and dropped off at the checkpoint. And they go through our private property to avoid detection.’
‘And the coyotes, a lot of times, by the time they get to the checkpoint, or even north of the checkpoint, run off and leave them. And you know, they’ll point at a light up north, one of those radio towers, and say, “Just keep walking toward that tower. Houston’s 20 minutes away”.’
Houston is a 280-mile drive from Falfurrias.
‘They’ve already duped them of their money,’ he explained. ‘And then some days later they’re still walking around in circles up here with no water. And you know, a lot of them die.’
‘A lot of coyotes don’t leave them, but they put them on a fast pace. We’re talking 3 to 4 miles per hour, through all this deep sand and all this brush, and real, real treacherous terrain. And if they can’t keep up, they’ll beat on them a little bit and tell them, “We’re just going to leave you here to die.” And they do.’
Vickers, a small-time cattle rancher who spends most of his days as a veterinarian caring for his neighbors’ livestock, will play a significant role in Dugard’s next movie.
In the filmmaker’s footage, Vickers shows a photo he took of a gang-tattooed drug runner who was armed but dehydrated when the Texas Border Volunteers stumbled onto him, near the point of death from heat exhaustion.
‘We actually saved this guy’s life,’ he said.
‘After we got the “pistolero” treated, we went another 300 yards and found this guy,’ he says, pointing to a picture of a badly decomposed corpse. ‘He wasn’t so lucky.’
Dugard also saw an Urdu-to-English dictionary that Vickers picked up near his ranch, dropped by ‘a coyote leading a group of Middle Easterners into our country.’
And Chinese immigrants, paying up to $50,000 each to be smuggled into Ecuador and then into the United States, are now numerous enough that the federal government has added Mandarin translations to signs at emergency stations dotting the Texas border region.
But it’s those ‘OTM’ aliens, especially the hundreds of unaccompanied minors crossing every day along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, who have turned illegal immigration into relentless front-page news.
The flow is ‘four times what it was in 2011. A four-fold increase,’ says Vickers.
He agrees with Republicans in Congress who point fingers of blame at President Obama, who declared in 2012 that the federal government would no longer pursue illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children before 2007.
He also championed a bill called the DREAM Act–failed legislation that aimed to offer those immigrants permanent residency if they graduated from high school.
‘When Obama started talking about the DREAM Act, and this and that about the DREAMers, I mean it was like, overnight we started seeing hordes of these teenagers coming in from Central America,’ Vickers told MailOnline. ‘I’ve got pictures of them.’
‘I mean, big groups–20, 30, 40 at a time. We were encountering them and getting Border Patrol to pick them up. And right off the bat they’d tell us, “Hey, we’re going to be able to go free. Mr. Obama is going to let us stay. He said we could come.’
‘He started talking about the DREAM Act and all of that stuff in 2012,’ the veterinarian said, ‘and here they come.’
Dugard showed MailOnline a brief interview with an illegal immigrant, an 18-ish young man from Tequila, Mexico who said he had paid a coyote $5,700 for safe passage to the U.S.
Asked if Obama is communicating to people south of the border ‘that it is possible to find work in the United States,’ he chewed his gum and replied, ‘Uh-huh.’
Dugard also claimed transnational drug traffickers ‘are taking big time advantage’ of Obama’s 2012 mini-amnesty. ‘They have been planning for this for the last two years.’
The deluge of unaccompanied minors, he said, have occupied so much of the federal government’s resources near the U.S.-Mexico border–allowing for only sparse apprehension of gun and narcotics smugglers.
‘Before the tidal wave of women and children hit the border,’ he told MailOnline, ‘cartels say they were getting about 50 per cent of their personnel across. Since Border Patrol has been hit with this wave of human shields, cartels are now claiming to get up to 90 per cent of their people across.’
Dugard also showed MailOnline exclusive interview footage with a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol who left his job because of the changing conditions on the ground.
‘I retired early because I was told I had to release a group of criminals because they may be DREAM Act people,’ the agent says, his face shielded because he feared reprisals.
‘I just could not see releasing these people who were convicted of crimes back into American society. I voiced my opinion. I was told basically to just shut up and do what I was told.’
Two members of the Texas congressional delegation, both Republicans, reacted with anger when MailOnline showed them a set of five photos of dead border-crossers.
‘How many precious lives must be needlessly lost, women raped, girls forced into sex trafficking or people trapped into the drug trade before the Obama administration stops luring them here with continued grants of amnesty, legal status, work permits, and benefits?’ asked Rep. Louie Gohmert.
‘Democrats don’t care that Obama’s rhetoric is getting people killed,’ Rep. Steve Stockman added.
‘They come here specifically because they believe Obama will give them amnesty. Democrats are willing to let illegals risk their lives just so Democrats can have a wedge issue to agitate their liberal base before an election.’
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, the Democrat who represents Brooks County, told MailOnline that illegal immigrant deaths in Brooks County are ‘a stain on the American way.’
‘I say this because so many lives could have been saved if we had a Comprehensive Immigration Bill in place,’ he added.
Hinojosa didn’t say how passing legislation favored by the White House would save lives, but insisted that ‘better immigration laws for our country’ would ‘hopefully prevent migrant deaths.’
He said relatives of the dead have visited his office. ‘I have heard their painful stories of not knowing what happened to their loved ones, and my heart aches for them.’
‘My office has worked with Brooks County officials on trying to find federal funding to help them identify and bury the dead.’
Vickers said no local or county government in his part of Texas has received any federal reimbursement for those costs. And he’s not impressed with how his congressman is responding.
Hinojosa ‘wants open borders,’ he said. ‘He tells his constituents that “I’m going to do whatever my president tells me to do.” Not what his constituents want him to do.’
For the mild-mannered vet, the buck stops in the Oval Office.
‘All this blood we see out here is on Obama’s hands.’