VALLEY OF DEATH

By Vicky Richter

This article contains disturbing images of human remains.
Be sure to observe age restrictions.

The border crisis isn’t just a problem in Texas border counties, it extends to Brooks County, 70 miles away, where Sheriff Urbino “Benny” Martinez and ranch owners like Dr. Mike Vickers must contend almost daily with the aftermath of the invasion by illegal immigrants into the United States.

Brooks County, a county located in the U.S. state of Texas, with a population of approximately 7,076 people. The county seat is Falfurrias. It is one of the poorest counties in Texas. Much of the county is made up of large ranches.

This county, despite the border with Mexico being 70 miles away, is one of the most used transit points for the thousands of illegal immigrants smuggled into the U.S. undetected and making their way through the Rio Grande Valley. Some illegals from the groups die trying to cross the valley, some from dehydration, and others are silenced for obstructing the group’s passage through the valley.

Children and women are left to die in the desert, many of them raped. Sheriff Martinez and his deputies are trying to deal with the situation daily but with the lack of federal support and masses of people pouring into the county on a daily and weekly basis, it is almost impossible to do so.

One-Man Standing

County Sheriff Urbino “Benny” Martinez has one of the smallest budgets to do his job of protecting the residents of his county. Resources and manpower are lacking to deal with the situation of so many illegals. Martinez hasn’t heard from Washington in a long time. Nightly chases, arrests of smugglers and illegal runners are mostly handled by one deputy. Night vision devices and bulletproof vests are procured and paid for by the police officers themselves.

How long have you been sheriff of Brooks County?

Sheriff Martinez: I’ve been the sheriff for Brooks County the last six years.

How many deputies do you have? How big is your county?

Sheriff Martinez: The county is 944 square miles. I usually operate with one deputy that handles that. But I do have a commander—and I’m including everyone here; the commander and the captain—one deputy that handles the calls themselves. I have a couple of CID guys. Let me see … five, maybe six.

How many illegals do you encounter in a week, alive or dead? How many do you have to pursue? Are there some who will find you?

Sheriff Martinez: Well, it varies based on actual interaction. We can interact with between 50 to 80. But you’re talking about a week, so we’re looking at anywhere between 80 and 100. What we do varies because sometimes we have bailouts and we only can apprehend maybe 2 possibly 3 out of the 20 who ran out of the truck, so it’s hard to say. Actual contact … it could be 3 versus 17 getaways. I would say anywhere between 80 to 100 in a week, which was your original question.

Does your staff have adequate and proper equipment to serve in this situation, to fulfill their service and complete their job in a safe manner?

Sheriff Martinez: No, of course not. I’d probably need to at least double what I have. If I had between 15 and 20 boots on the ground, that would be much more efficient than what I have now. It would double the resources. As it is, we rely a lot on Border Patrol to help us. We also rely on state police and local city police because we simply don’t have adequate resources.

Does your staff receive proper gear from the State, or do they have to purchase the proper gear themselves?

Sheriff Martinez: We get the gear as frequently as we can. Is the proper gear what they have? Yes. But does it get outdated? Yes. Do we have the funds to upgrade? No, so we rely on grants and other resources for them to get the gear that is needed.

Do you get adequate support from the federal government?

Sheriff Martinez: Well, the support we get from the federal government is simply grant monies to help Border Patrol, to be a force multiplier with Border Patrol. It’s what those monies are for, right? Those are the only funds. We’re lacking the monies the county lost. It’s been 10 years since we lost almost $700,000 on recovering bodies. We’ve been trying to recover those bodies and to no avail. It’s just one of those things that we need to keep at until we get those funds back.

Valley of Death

Rio Grande Valley residents call it the Valley of Death because has become a tragic routine for many ranch owners to find human remains or bodies on their properties. One of the deputies’ main duties has become to recover human remains and bodies from surrounding ranches and categorize them forensically as much as possible. Extra training has even been required for deputies to perform this task. Since the Biden Administration, the number of body discoveries has increased by 250 percent in 2021 compared to 2020.

What percentage of increase in dead bodies have you seen in the last 10 years?

Sheriff Martinez: How many have we seen in the last 10 years in person? Percentagewise, in the last 10 years? It’s over 50, 60 percent, maybe more, because it varies. On average, we’re at 80 percent. That’s the average. At times, we’ll see maybe 20, 30 even 80 percent above that. That’s what we’re seeing if you look at it percentagewise.

Why do some people call your valley “The Valley of Death”?

Sheriff Martinez: Yes, some people call it that because we’ve recovered over 900 dead since 2009. We’ve recovered 180 bodies in the last 20 months. That’s why they call it ‘Death Valley’, because we’re 70 miles north of the border and some just can’t make it. This morning we found a little girl that was left behind yesterday. We found her, she was still alive and once she received a bit of medical care, she did well. I say she did well because she’s alive, so that’s a good thing. That’s truly a good thing. Or she would have been another statistic for us.

Not only does the sheriff’s team have to deal with the collateral damage of the border crisis, but ranchers live with this tragedy daily. Can you imagine what they face finding women and children left behind or their remains on their property … it’s heartbreaking.

Deceived and left alone by the government

Washington DC has been trying for months to convince citizens in the United States that the situation on

the border is under control and that not a single American citizen has been negatively affected by this crisis. However, the fact is that many American citizens, especially ranchers, are being negatively affected.

Thousands of feet of fencing are damaged weekly and must be paid for by the landowners themselves, which can be $1000 to $2000 a month per ranch, in addition to the cost of lost, injured or killed livestock. Destroyed gates and stolen pick-up trucks are now part of the ranchers’ daily routine. Not to forget the tragic loss of life.

Dr. Mike Vickers is one of the ranchers who must live with these problems. To keep some control, he trained his German Shepherds to provide security for his property, they are trained to take illegals into custody and make sure they don’t run away until the Border Patrol or Sheriff come to arrest them.

What is the size of your ranch?

Dr. M. Vickers: This ranch is 1000 acres.

How many times in a week do you find illegals who have died on your property?

Dr. M. Vickers: Not weekly, but we have some. The ranch south of me is 110,000 acres and the one north is over 48,000 acres, so collectively there are a lot.

How many unaccompanied children do you find?

Dr. M. Vickers: We find a lot of unaccompanied children

Your German Shepherds are a huge help in keeping your property safe – how many criminal illegals would you say they’ve helped put in custody?

Dr. M. Vickers: The dogs have helped with over 800 illegals, now in custody, just in

our house pastures.

How high are your monthly costs to rebuild the fences around your property?

Dr. M. Vickers: Fence repairs run $1000 to $2000 per month.

Do you get any support from the federal government?

Dr. M. Vickers: None. No financial support from the State or Federal government.

No longer the America that once was ….

The mainstream media and federal government talk about the best America in a long time, not everyone sees it in Brooks County.

Do you think the U.S. has changed since this border crisis got out of control?

Sheriff Martinez: Absolutely changed. Some people might not admit or talk about it, but yeah, of course it’s changed. Anytime you see the influx as it is, as you’re coming in, your infrastructure is going to hurt because the infrastructure is not built to that. You can’t build that fast to meet the expectations of those coming in. So, it has absolutely changed.

It’s one of those issues that if you don’t have the infrastructure to support it, you’re going to see a change; the volume, the medical care, the resources that you need, your community service resources, et cetera, et cetera. Even the schools are going to have to improvise for that also. Housing. Everything that anyone, any family member goes through, it’s just been quadrupled or more just because of the influx of people.

Do you feel safe on your property?

Dr. M. Vickers: Only feel safe when well-armed.

Do you think the border crisis is more an invasion than a crisis?

Sheriff Martinez: At this point, you can probably call it that simply because of the volume of people coming in. There’s too many of them. It goes back to what I said earlier. Not enough resources to house all of them or medical resources to assist in their care. Anything that we use as a norm, is not a norm for them. That must be sped up, put in the front row so they can be treated and be taken care of, not only in terms of education, but also in terms of wellness and health issues. It’s just too overwhelming right now to say that we have everything in place to take care of them.

Do you think the open border policy is a betrayal to the American people?

Dr. M. Vickers: Open Borders are a huge betrayal to all Americans.


One thought on "VALLEY OF DEATH"

  1. meito martinez says:

    We don’t need to or want to house them, feed them, take care of them, or educate them. WE WANT them sent back to Mexico where they came from or came through and putting a conviction of illegally being in the US and invading
    America, with no future immigration for them allowed – on Their Records !

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