Authorities are warning anyone ready to sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border about a trio of armed robberies and assaults of migrants in the Otay Mountain Wilderness area.
The incidents took place March 24 and 27, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.
On March 24, five undocumented travelers detained by the Border Patrol in the remote region reported having been held up by gun-toting bandits.
The group told agents the robbers threatened them with a rifle and a pistol and ordered them to pay $1,000 to be allowed to continue their journey.
The migrants reported that when they could not produce the money, the thieves stole their cell phones. The detainees also told the officers that bandits were holding other victims captive just south of the international line straddling San Diego County and Baja California.
The agents who took the group into custody saw several suspected robbers running off to the south, the federal agency reported.
On March 27, Border Patrol officers patrolling in the southern San Diego-area wilderness preserve stopped 20 undocumented migrants, some of whom said that they had been robbed a short time earlier by bandits armed with revolvers.
Agents at the scene saw three suspects walking south and crossing into Mexico.
That same day, agents encountered another contingent of travelers who reported having been assaulted and robbed as they entered the U.S. illegally.
The migrants said that two bandits armed with pistols punched and kicked them, stole their money and cell phones, and made a failed attempt to separate one of them from the group and forcibly take her back across the border.
All the people detained during the three encounters were medically evaluated before being transported to a Border Patrol station for deportation processing.
Agents assigned to the USBP Foreign Operations Branch reported the cases to the Mexican government, according to the Border Patrol.
“We continue to stress to migrants: Do not place your life or the lives of your loved ones in the hands of callous smugglers or risk encountering thieves and kidnappers in these remote areas,” San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said. “There is only one safe and secure means of entering the United States, and that is through a designated port of entry.”
– City News Service