MARFA, Texas – A woman was left for dead in the winter storm blanketing Texas last week. She barely survived after Border Patrol Agents from Big Bend Sector were able to get her medical attention and evacuate her to a hospital for life threatening injuries.
Agents at the Van Horn, Texas Border Patrol Station were advised by a caller claiming to be a relative of a 43-year-old woman from Mexico that she was abandoned by a smuggler on Saturday, Feb. 13. Agents deployed to the area to look for the female subject with no initial success. Finally, a rancher in the local area notified Border Patrol Agents he encountered the female. Agents immediately responded to the ranch with emergency medical equipment and agents who are qualified as Emergency Medical Technicians. Agents performed first-aid to stabilize the subject and elevate her core body temperature to enable safe transport from the remote area of Texas to a regional hospital, where she was treated for hypothermia and severe frostbite.
The female subject notified agents that she spent three days hidden among rocks during the actual snowstorm. According to initial reports, she said that once the snow stopped falling, she made her way to an abandoned shed where she spent three additional days in freezing temperatures. On the sixth day she observed a dirt road that had fresh vehicle tracks and followed them until she came upon a rancher.
The unfortunate events that unfolded during this harrowing experience may last for a while as she tries to recover from her frostbite and its lingering effects. “It’s unfortunate so many people place their lives in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers, which often results in a tragic situation like this,” said Big Bend Sector Chief Patrol Agent Sean McGoffin. “For smugglers, it’s a business and they will leave you behind if you cannot keep up with them.”
Agents rescued over 200 people during the inclement weather, doing everything in their power to save the lives of those in need. Unfortunately, four subjects succumbed to the cold weather before they were found by agents. “For us, it’s about a precious life lost,” said Chief McGoffin. “Our greatest concern is the preservation of life. Our agents go well beyond the normal requirements of the job to help others. They know in these situations, there are no second chances.”
After receiving extensive medical treatment, the female subject was processed according to Big Bend Sector protocols for appropriate adjudication. U.S. Customs and Border Protection remains vigilant regarding U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that COVID-19 is not further introduced into the United States.
Big Bend Sector partners with many local and state law enforcement entities to keep our border communities safe. If you see something suspicious, report it by contacting our 24/7 hotline at
1-866-581-7549. Together, we can continue to uphold national security, combat illicit activity and keep people safe.