The woman, from El Salvador, told agents she and her daughter were riding a train through Mexico to the United States when armed men boarded the stopped train. The armed men, believed to be part of the smuggling organization, ordered everyone to get off the train and assaulted several people while robbing them of their belongings.
According to the woman, one of the armed men hit a helpless man with his handgun which caused the gun to fire a bullet striking the four year old girl in the left shoulder. The terrified woman picked up her little girl and got back onto the train. The train conductor arrived shortly after the robbers fled and took the mother and child to a local hospital for treatment. At the hospital, doctors removed the bullet from the little girl’s body and released her from care.
Upon leaving the hospital, smugglers took the mother and daughter to a stash house in Mexico. According to the mother, the conditions in the house were deplorable. The house was crammed with people, many of them being young children. As her child was suffering from the gunshot wound, no medical assistance was available to her. There were no antibiotics, no sterile dressings, no pain medication and no sympathy from those she trusted to bring her and her daughter to the United States.
The mother told agents that the entire journey was horrible, she was treated like cargo, worse than animals. At one point during her journey and a stay in a cramped stash house, the mother was threatened by a caretaker. She was told that if her child did not stop crying she would be forced to “sleep outside with the dogs.” The woman said she saw other families and children traveling alone being treated worse than she and her daughter. Young girls were being forced to stay in rooms with strange men unrelated to them as a form of punishment for not keeping quiet.
The woman and her daughter continued their travel until they crossed the Rio Grande near Hidalgo, Texas and were rescued by Border Patrol agents. Shortly after being found, agents immediately took the mother and little girl to a local hospital for medical care where she was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit.
“It’s heartbreaking to hear about a child being hurt by smugglers,” said Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla Jr. “Smugglers have no regard for human life, and it is a travesty that migrants – innocent women and children put their trust into these people who see them as nothing more than a commodity to make money. We continue to warn migrants about the dangers human smugglers will put them in. Time and time again we see and hear about smugglers taking advantage of the most helpless people.”
Family members in the United States are urged not to put their loved ones safety and lives at risk by encouraging them to illegally enter the United States or circumventing a checkpoint. The public should take a stand against crime in their communities and help save lives by reporting suspicious activity at 800-863-9382.
Please visit www.cbp.gov to view additional news releases and other information pertaining to Customs and Border Protection