Remains of Migrant Found Hanging From Tree 80 Miles From Border in Texas

Law enforcement officials in Texas on Thursday found the remains of a suspected migrant hanging from a tree 80 miles from the state's border with Mexico.

A graphic photo taken by the sheriff's office and posted online by Breitbart, which first reported on the investigation, shows a man's skeletal body hanging from a long piece of cloth around his neck.

"We have never seen anything like this in our county," Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez told the news outlet. "We regularly find deceased migrants in this county, but never anything like this. This is what our deputies and the Border Patrol agents have to deal with here," he added.

Martinez told Newsweek that the body was naked, and that law enforcement officials found folded clothing next to him. They suspect the man was hung with his own shirt, and that the body had been at the scene for at least a week.

Investigators also found two identification cards belonging to a Mexican male at the scene. The sheriff said the investigation is being treated as a homicide, though he noted that there are still too many variables "to really specifically say what actually transpired," until authorities return to the scene and get an autopsy report back.

Remains Of Migrant Found Hanging From Tree
The skeletal remains of a man were found hanging from a tree in Texas, 80 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border. Above, a Dallas County sheriff's truck sits in front of the apartment building on October 13, 2014, in Dallas, Texas. Mike Stone

"This is why it's imperative that we find witnesses because they'll be the only ones to tell us exactly what happened," Martinez said.

The Brooks County Sheriff's Office has reported an increase in migrant deaths this year. Martinez said his office has found 98 migrants who died since January and noted that 10 migrants died in a car crash. Last year, Martinez said his office only looked into the deaths of 34 migrants.

The sheriff said he believes the Biden administration's "rhetoric" around immigration is likely what has lead to the increase, and more people coming across the border.

"You can only suspect, or assume that because of the rhetoric that the administration is putting out there that they can come in, they're gonna come in," he said.

Martinez said that the body found on Thursday is the only migrant death case this year in which his office has suspected foul play.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that as the number of migrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico has surged, border patrol officials have found the highest number of migrants dead in nearly a decade. Through the month of July, officials reported 383 deaths, up from 253 last year.