Saturday, 20 Sep 2014 07:39 PM
By Todd Beamon

Texas Gov. Rick Perry will send National Guard troops to a rural part of the state to help local sheriff's deputies search for the bodies of illegal immigrants who have died after crossing the U.S. border from Mexico.

"For many years, law enforcement and landowners in this area have been overwhelmed by the tragic impacts of human smuggling across our county," said Brooks County Sheriff Rey Rodriguez, whose agency will benefit from the additional support.

"We are grateful for the assistance these search teams will provide in locating the numerous individuals who have lost their lives," Rodriguez said in a statement reported Friday by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

In July, Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to the south Texas border to stem the flow of illegals crossing the Rio Grande River. The Republican told Fox Business Network on Friday that he would decide next year on whether he would seek the White House in 2016.

Brooks County is about 100 miles north of the border. The remains of as many as 332 illegals suspected of being smuggled or trafficked by Mexican drug cartels have been discovered in the county since 2011, according to Texas Department of Public Safety data cited by the Caller-Times.

Many have died of dehydration or exhaustion. A record 129 illegals were recovered from brush in 2012, and one deputy alone investigated 25 bodies last year.

Smugglers lead illegals through Brooks County and other rural areas to avoid the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias, the Caller-Times reports. U.S. Highway 281 cuts through the county.

"We know that Brooks County is home to a busy drug-and-human-trafficking route used by Mexican cartels, and it has been for far too long," Steven McCraw, state public safety director, told the Caller-Times in a statement.