FT. HANCOCK, Texas -- Texas border towns have received a flood of silent refugees from Mexico. The refugees have fled Mexican drug cartels, who are driving them from their homes in an effort grab more land.
A year ago in Ft. Hancock, the most excitement the farming community saw were the trains running through the city. Now, in the quiet town just east of El Paso, there has been a surge of new people moving in to the community.
"They are literally walking, if they have vehicles, they are loading up their vehicles and coming," one woman said, whose identity was hidden.
Until a few weeks ago, the refugees lived in El Porvenir, Mexico, just south of the border from Ft. Hancock. El Porvenir is one of many Mexican towns that are terrorized by drug cartels. Thirty days ago, the cartels moved in and put up signs that read: "Get out of town, or die."
"What are they supposed to do when somebody comes in and tells them, 'You all have 48 hours to leave?,'" the woman asked.
The drug cartels do not make empty threats. Already dozens homes have been torched, because their owners took too long to leave. On Easter Sunday, a church was burned to the ground.
"They take it serious cause they have seen a bunch of killings, they've seen when they drop off dead bodies on the side of the road or cut their heads off," the woman continued. "They've seen it and they are going to run."
Now the refugees have ran north of the border and into Ft. Hancock.
"All they had to defend themselves with were rocks and sticks," said Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West. "There is no police force, whatsoever in El Porvenir or in the other villages up and down the river there."
West said while thousands have fled El Porvenir and the surrounding towns. Exactly where they have gone is hard to say.
"When they do come across, they don't want to be found," he said. "They don't want law enforcement on the American side to find them, they just want to be in a safe place."
The reason why these major cartels would be interested in taking over the little towns, because it is all about land mass.
For the cartels it is also a perfect opportunity to smuggle humans and also to smuggle narcotics. The cartels want to have as much land as possible and have a lot of resources to move drugs into the country. For the sheriff's department, West said he has 17 deputies to cover an area of 5,000 square miles.
South of the border, the people of the towns are simply at the mercy of the cartels, and without any help from the Mexican police or military.
"What's going to happen when all these people are going to be starving out there," asked the unidentified woman. "They don't have no where to go, they are living in barns, they are living in cabins, there are children out there."