MCALLEN, Texas — Our nation's southern border stretches from the Pacific Ocean in California all the way to the tip of South Texas.
It’s a stretch of land of more than 1,900 miles protected by Border Patrol agents.
Anchor Katia Uriarte followed agents in a KRIS 6 News special report where she witnessed the capture of an elementary school teacher who was making a desperate bid to enter the United States from Honduras in search of a better life for his baby girl, wife and him.
There are nine sectors along the southern border.
The busiest is in McAllen, which is about a 2½-hour drive from Corpus Christi.
About 40 percent of undocumented immigrants crossing into the United States on the southwestern border have been captured in that sector alone.
There, we found an elementary school teacher running from agents.
“He's moving on you brother. He's running."
Making a desperate dash to America.
It wasn't just him.
It's a group.
"O.K., he's running straight north guys."
One man caught - bloodied.
Cut from the thick brush.
In all, four people were captured.
Three from Honduras.
One from Mexico.
Carlos Paz from Honduras agrees to talk to us.
"Porque Veniste? (Why did you come?)”
Paz explains he tried crossing illegally because he wants a better life for himself, his baby girl and his wife.
As a teacher in Honduras, the 24-year-old Paz says he went a full year without being paid.
”A veces hasta ocho meses sin pago -- un año sin pago. Entonces no me daba de otra. Ya tenia un hogar con mi esposa venia mi hija. Me tocó trabajar en una empresa en Honduras. (I'd go, at times, eight months without pay -- a year without pay. So I didn't have a choice. I had a home with my wife, my daughter was on the way. I worked at a company in Honduras.)”
He left Honduras in December with one goal.
To go north and to make it into the United States.
"Es la primera vez que tratas de venir? (Is this the first time you try and cross?) Si primera vez, madre. (Yes, the first time.)"
Along the way, Paz claims a drug cartel caught him and demanded money. He escaped, unlike friends, who were held hostage and beaten for more money.
And get this . . . Carlos said he paid $9,000 to cross illegally into the United States.
We asked why not go to the embassy and try to come legally.
”Nosotros -- esa era la meta de mi familia, sacar una visa pero no pues. Me arregle a este camino porque siempre dicen 'no'. No es tan bueno ir allá -- siempre se la niegan y es el gasto perdido. Us -- that was my family's goal, get a visa put no. I arranged to come this route because they always say 'no'. It's not good to go over there -- they always deny you and it's money wasted.)"
U.S. Border Patrol agent Hermann Rivera says it's not surprising to hear of immigrants paying big bucks to come to the states
In fact, he said that money goes right to the drug cartels who already control the northern Mexican border.
Because it's their turf.
“That's all it is a money-driven biz, so we ask people to do it legally,” Rivera said. “Get that money, the possibility, get it out of their hands."
When asked if entering legally will keep from feeding the drug cartels, Rivera had a quick answer.
“We just want to get that element out of the picture,” he said. "Don't put your lives in their hands because, at the end of the day, all you are is merchandise."
Human merchandise has become a profitable business for the cartels, along with drugs.
Agents just at this border crossing at the Rio Grande Valley sector in McAllen apprehended more than 339,000 people last year.
They confiscated more than 125,000 pounds of drugs, and arrested nearly 130 people for assaults.
What happens here, agents said, eventually impacts us all.
"This actually affects everybody,” Rivera said. “Not just along the border where we're at right now but it affects everybody in this country. And what I say and mean by that is these people don't stay in this area. They go further north into the country they go to different states.
“That’s why we encourage people to not let these smuggling organizations take advantage of you and what I mean by that is financially,” Rivera said.
As agents take Carlos away, he asks me if I can do anything to help him.
But I can't.
Carlos and the others will go to a detention center.
But as he told me earlier in the interview, this will not be the end.
He will try to come to the United States again.
And while the criminal element of illegal crossings is growing, you might be surprised to hear that illegal crossings from the United States’ southern border are down significantly from last year.
That part of the story Wednesday at 10 p.m.