Officers from the United States Customs and Border Patrol office in McAllen, Texas, rescued a three-year-old girl abandoned in the desert by human traffickers, the agency reported Wednesday.
Smugglers separated the child from her mother so that they could cross the pair of illegal immigrants over the Rio Grande river near Hidalgo, Texas. The mother was able to make it across, but when the smuggler helping her daughter cross lost control and began drifting down the river, authorities said, he abandoned the girl to handle the river alone.
Officers responded to a call from locals, who indicated illegal immigrants had taken refuge under a bridge. Once there, they found the girl's mother, distraught and unsure what had happened to her child,
"Harlingen Border Patrol Station riverine units and a National Guard helicopter deployed to the area in search of the child. Agents located the child walking on the river road and immediately checked the child for injuries before reuniting her with the mother. The child was unharmed and not in need of medical assistance," Customs and Border Patrol said in a statement.
The rescue was part of a longterm operation originating out of McAllen, Texas, the location of both the single largest Border Patrol office, and the single largest protest against Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The task force has saved around 1,200 immigrants crossing into the United States illegally.