An ABC News correspondent and crew tagged along with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official Monday and saw firsthand how smugglers are helping immigrants cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
"That's a smuggler!" Border Patrol agent Robert Rodriguez yelled.
Rodriguez had spotted the suspected smuggler while he was walking down a dirt trail with ABC's Tony Llamas next to the Rio Grande River near McAllen, Texas.
The alleged smuggler had just dropped off two mothers, their children, and a teenage boy, ABC News reported.
The agent ran after the shirtless man who quickly headed back down the path where he had left his inflatable raft waiting in the river for him. He jumped onto the raft and started paddling back across the river into Mexico.
“I can’t go into the river to apprehend him,” Rodriguez told Llamas. “I assure you he was a smuggler. No shirt on and ready to jump back into the river.”
The agent went back to search for the illegal immigrants but they were gone.
He finally spotted them about a quarter of a mile up the road headed toward Granjeno, Texas.
What did they say?
Sara Posades, 30, who was traveling with her 12-year-old daughter told ABC News that she was from Honduras. The woman said she'd been on a monthlong journey to the U.S. with her child.
She burst into tears when she was asked why they had made the dangerous journey with her daughter.
"The poverty," Posades said.
The other mother, Ingrid Caseres, crossed with her 1-year-old son. She told ABC News that her husband had been killed by gangs. They threatened to kill her and her baby, she said.
They were taken into Border Patrol custody.
"Every single day agents encounter those types of situations," Rodriguez said. "My goal is to make sure that once they're in our custody and everything is OK, that they have water, is to assure them that they're going to go somewhere safe, that they're going to be fed, that they're going to be taken care of properly."