Border Report’s Top Stories of 2019

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EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — From a local beauty queen named Miss Mexico, to an exclusive video showing the construction of a border barrier on private land, to students from Mexico catching a bus to attend school in New Mexico, a variety of Border Report stories sprang to the top in 2019:

10) 300 National Guard troops deploy to ‘militarized zone’ at South Texas border

As South Texas residents said they’d begun noticing a heightened presence of law enforcement patrolling the border, 300 National Guard troops just deployed to the region, a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman confirmed to Border Report.

A Border Patrol spokesman said the 280 to 300 new National Guard troops replaced the same number of U.S. Army troops who had been deployed here. “National Guard from Georgia that are taking over those posts,” the spokesman said.

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National Guard units had originally been posted in South Texas in 2015 by U.S. Gov. Greg Abbott to combat a surge of migrants, mostly from Central American countries. But as the surge continued year after year, some active U.S. Army troops were brought in to the region.

9) $850k in meth bound for Kansas City intercepted at Border Patrol checkpoint

An El Paso man is facing federal drug trafficking charges after Border Patrol agents intercepted more than 21 kilograms (25 pounds) of methamphetamine bound for Kansas City, Missouri at a checkpoint near Alamogordo, New Mexico last week.

Dennis Talamantes, 22, is charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine in Federal New Mexico District Court following Wednesday morning’s seizure.

8) Highway robberies on the rise in Mexico as drug cartels target holiday travelers

In this Oct. 3, 2015 photo, an empty stretch of highway leads to the city of Iguala, in the Mexican state of Guerrero. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Highway robbery in Mexico tends to spike around the Christmas and Easter holidays, when tens of thousands of U.S. residents venture south to visit family members, often bearing gifts that make them more of a target, public safety analysts say. And with the drug cartels now targeting commercial trucks and their cargo as well, it’s important to exercise extreme caution on Mexican highways.

7) Family put drug lord behind bars for murder, now they fear he’ll come after them from prison

(Mauricio Luna Aguilar, a.k.a., ‘Papacho’ (right) stands during his arraignment on murder and kidnapping charges in Juarez in 2015. (photo courtesy The Law Office of Carlos Spector)

Mauricio Luna, a.k.a. “El Papacho” or Big Daddy, had such a hold on Mexican authorities east of Juarez, Mexico, the family feared filing a police report on the abductions, according to Elvira Garcia. She said the drug traffickers told her family to “get out of town, but leave the keys to your houses and your cars because everything that was yours is ours now.”

6) Group clears private riverfront land to build border wall in South Texas

The controversial, Florida-based nonprofit advocacy organization, We Build the Wall, boasted on social media that it had begun clearing riverfront land on the banks of the Rio Grande in Mission, Texas, to build a 3.5-mile border barrier on private property.

This is believed to be the first private wall construction in South Texas by this organization, which earlier in 2019 built a section of wall near El Paso in Sunland Park, New Mexico.

5) Advocates fear mass suicide at ICE facility in Southern NM

Two Cuban asylum seekers detained at the Otero County Processing Center attempted to commit suicide by slitting their wrists, and about 19 others have threatened to follow suit, immigrant advocates said.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson confirmed that two Cuban detainees, ages 29 and 28, attempted to harm themselves, “in an effort to bring attention to their immigration cases.” However, the ICE spokesperson noted both detainees only managed to scratch their wrists.

4) Marfa border agents find Chinese migrants in cemetery shack

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrest 10 citizens of China illegally present in United States in Marfa, Texas. (Courtesy Border Patrol)

Border Patrol agents found a group of 10 undocumented Chinese immigrants hiding inside an abandoned shack in September at a cemetery in Marfa, Texas.

3) Children from Palomas, Mexico catch school buses to attend school in New Mexico

Hundreds of students from Palomas, Mexico, many of whom are American citizens, attend school in the United States. Border Report was there as students gathered early one morning in a parking lot of the port of entry in Columbus, New Mexico, before catching a bus to school in Deming, New Mexico.

2) Exclusive video shows activity continuing at site of planned private border wall in South Texas, despite judges’ orders

Despite two judges issuing temporary restraining orders relating to building a private border wall in South Texas on the Rio Grande, Border Report obtained exclusive video showing activity continues.

The video shows tall, thin steel bollards being put into the ground at an angle, dirt being cleared, crews using an augur and heavy equipment, trucks driving up and down the riverfront embankment and workers digging dirt with shovels. It also shows a large swath of land that has been cleared of sugar and carrizo cane since this project first began in mid-November.

1) El Paso native, Horizon High grad crowned Miss Mexico

Courtesy: Miss Mexico Organization/MGN Online

An El Paso native was crowned Miss Mexico in September in Mexico City.

Ashley Alvidrez, 20, was born in El Paso and is a naturalized Mexican citizen. She is a 2017 graduate of Horizon High School in El Paso County, where she was a standout basketball and volleyball player.

Alvidrez initially won the title of Miss Ciudad Juarez, then Miss Chihuahua and went on to win the title of Miss Mexico. Alvidrez represented Mexico in the 2019 Miss World Competition on Dec. 14 in London.

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