EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – U.S. Border Patrol agents in the El Paso Sector had a busy week, intercepting over 160 migrants being smuggled into New Mexico.

Agents stopped 24 smuggling attempts in Southern New Mexico, according to a news release sent out by Customs and Border Protection.

Encounters in the El Paso Sector, which also includes New Mexico, are still at an all-time high with more than 192,000 encounters during Fiscal Year 2023, up to the end of January.

Highlights include:

On Tuesday, March 7, agents, patrolling near Cloverdale, New Mexico, stopped an SUV because the driver was behaving suspiciously. After being pulled over, the front two passengers immediately ran off into the desert. Inside the SUV, 20 migrants were found crammed into the back of the vehicle. Migrants were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

On Thursday, March 9, agents in Deming conducted an immigration stop on a white Ford cargo van along New Mexico Highway 9. When the vehicle stopped, all the migrants ran into the desert. After an extensive search, the agents located all 23 migrants, including the driver, a 20-year-old, male, Mexican national. The driver was issued an “expedited removal” from the United States and given a five-year ban.

Later in the day, agents working the Interstate 25 checkpoint in Truth and Consequences, New Mexico, initiated an immigration stop on a 2004 Ford Expedition. Upon inspection, nine smuggled immigrants were hiding inside the car.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection welcomes assistance from the community. Citizens are encouraged to report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol while remaining anonymous by calling 1-800-635-2509.