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Federal agents rescue 23 migrants in locked rail car in scorching Texas heat

July 10 (UPI) -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that its agents rescued 23 migrants stowed away in a locked train compartment at the Texas border in Cotulla Tuesday morning, a day with temperatures rising to near 100 degrees.

Laredo Sector agents assigned to the Cotulla Station, about 70 miles from the Texas-Mexico border, were conducting a check of train compartments when they found the migrants locked in the hot car with no means of escape.

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Border patrol had to use "extra tools" to eventually open up the compartment to save the migrants. Laredo Section Chief Jesse Munoz called the event a "life-threatening situation" and blamed human smuggling organizations that "prioritized profit over all else."

"CBP's message for anyone who is thinking of entering the United States unlawfully remains simple: Don't do it," Munoz said.

The agency said the migrants appeared to be from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. CBP said all were being processed according to their immigration status.

"Smugglers continue to lie to migrants, claiming the borders are safe to cross," the CBP said in a statement. "The borders are not open to irregular migration, and people should not attempt to make the dangerous journey."

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The incident harkened back to 2002 when 11 suspected undocumented migrants died in a grain hopper rail car that had been left on a rail siding for four months. The victims eventually were found by a rail car cleaning company.

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