The body was covered in blue jeans, black boots, a brown belt and had a white rosary around the neck. The shirt had been removed. A forensic pathologist estimated the age of the male in the late teens.
A phone number was inscribed on his belt buckle.
That number led authorities to the decedent's brother in Chicago, who said the body was 11-year-old Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, of Guatemala. The clothes he was wearing matched the description of what Ramos Juarez was wearing the last time he was seen, which was 25 days prior in Reynosa. He was traveling with an uncle into the United States, but family members said the uncle was detained by Border Patrol. Ramos Juarez was released to a coyote with a big group, and authorities believe the 11-year-old was going to meet up with his brother in Chicago.
Sheriff Eddie Guerra said there were houses as close as a quarter-mile from where Ramos Juarez was found close to Patricio Perez Road and Nopal before 1 p.m. on June 15. A forensic pathologist estimated he died in late May or the first week of June.
“This area is a very brushy area,” Guerra said. “Not being familiar with the terrain, I’m sure this child was just wandering aimlessly through the brush area with no water.”
An autopsy is pending, but the forensic pathologist said the signs indicate heatstroke, Guerra said.
“This terrain, especially now going into our summer months ... it's not easy,” Guerra said. “Immigrants need to heed the warning that it's very dangerous. It's a very dangerous journey.
He added that transnational criminal organizations are responsible for recruiting Central Americans to make the trip into the United States.
“We need our federal leaders to get that statement out to these countries that they’re giving them some false hopes about coming into this country, and I believe that’s the job of our federal leaders.”
Local and federal officials are seeing an influx of unaccompanied minors and families crossing into the border, causing what several are calling an immigration crisis. The sudden increase is creating an overflow at Border Patrol facilities as the immigrants immediately turn themselves into authorities upon crossing the border.
The influx has brought harsh criticism from Texas Republicans, who have said the federal government is not doing its part to secure the border. Last month, state leaders agreed to boost funding for the Department of Public Safety by $1.3 million a week to help operations.
“Here’s my concern,” Gov. Rick Perry said during a recent visit, “the federal government spends hundreds of millions of dollars on foreign aid going into countries south of the United States, whether it’s Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras … yet this administration is being hesitant about spending some millions of dollars to secure this border.”
Monday President Barack Obama announced the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice will be moving all available resources in the interior of the country to the Texas border. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said specifically 150 Border Patrol agents would be added to the border as well as other personnel.
Congress also is considering supplemental funding, Johnson said, and in a visit this week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said she came to see what Congress could do to help. She said the situation does have qualities of a crisis but it’s an opportunity to “show who we are as Americans.
“I’m a mother of five, with nine grandchildren,” Pelosi said. “I wish that I could take all those children home with me. I wish you could all see what we saw today.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.