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A National Guard soldier who helped rescue some migrants is still missing, and the search continues amid new reports that those migrants were involved in drug smuggling.
The Guardsman, who remains unidentified by military authorities, had jumped into the Rio Grande river on Friday in order to rescue two Mexican immigrants who had been drowning. As of this writing, the search had failed to turn up the missing guardsman, though authorities continue their efforts to recover the individual, which reportedly involves efforts from multiple state and federal agencies.
Overall, very little is known about the incident, and the authorities are being tight-lipped about the entire affair, as evidenced by their unwillingness to name the missing guardsman. However, NBC News obtained some footage of the rescue efforts, which show boats traversing the river looking for the individual, and divers wading in. Officials did confirm late Saturday night that the guardsman still hasn’t been found.
The Texas National Guard acknowledged that there were widespread rumors that the guardsman was already dead, but insisted that those reports were false and that they are still searching for a live individual, the Daily Mail reported.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of the soldier,” The Texas Military Department stated.
In a statement given to the Washington Post, Jon Anfinsen, who is president of the local Border Patrol union, said that the river is more dangerous than it looks:
“Sometimes you see migrants use an inner tube, but in this part of the river, people hold hands and walk across in a human chain. If they step in a hole, that’s it. The river looks calm and walkable [sic] but it’s fast-moving and deceiving.”
Sheriff Tom Schmerber of Maverick County broke with the higher authorities in expressing doubt that the guardsman had survived in a statement to the Daily Mail:
“After more than three hours, it is very doubtful,’ he said, adding: ‘That area of the river is very dangerous this time of year. Very strong tides and currents. He did not resurface.”
The two migrants are now in the custody of the US Customs and Border Protection, and are alleged to be smugglers of narcotics for one of the various Mexico-based drug cartels. It is not known if the guardsman was aware of their drug trafficker status when the individual attempted to rescue them from the river.
The guardsman was part of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s attempt to use state resources to secure the border, “Operation Lone Star,” launched in response to the border crisis that has seen little to no action from the administration of President Joe Biden, or from his “border czar,” Vice-President Kamala Harris. Harris has repeatedly been under fire, even from fellow Democrats, for being a no-show at the border, despite her authoritative-sounding title.
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