EDINBURG, Texas -

U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector say they encountered the remains of eight illegal immigrants, seized an estimated $10.3 million worth of marijuana and busted three stash houses, where illegal immigrants were being harbored.

So far for fiscal year 2013, agents said they have saved the lives of more than 600 illegal immigrants whose lives were in danger due to a variety of circumstances. The number of rescues marks a 132 percent increase over the same time period for the previous fiscal year.

Unfortunately, agents said the harsh environment of south Texas took its toll on eight illegal immigrants over the past week.

The majority of the six remains were found in the rugged ranch lands near Falfurrias on Wednesday and Thursday. Officials said two of the bodies were found in the Rio Grande near Mission on Monday and Tuesday, and the other body was found in the brush near Donna on Tuesday.

Agents made multiple drug seizures throughout the past week. One of the largest occurred Monday near Rio Grande City when agents said they spotted a marijuana-laden GMC Yukon traveling away from the river at a high rate of speed.

Agents on the ground said they lost sight of the vehicle, but a helicopter from the Office of Air and Marine followed it to a nearby house.

The passengers abandoned the Yukon and sped off in another vehicle. Agents said they were apprehended a short time later. Inside the abandoned Yukon agents said they found more than 1,600 pounds of marijuana.

In another large seizure, officials said agents from the Rio Grande City Station netted nearly 1,400 pounds of marijuana Thursday near Garceño.

Several additional seizures pushed the total amount of marijuana seized from Sunday through Thursday to nearly 13,000 pounds, agents said.

With the help of local law enforcement agencies, agents said they took down three stash houses that were harboring a total of 115 immigrants illegally present in the U.S.

Two of the stash houses were busted Monday. In one of the busts, officials said the Mission and Alton police departments helped agents arrest more than 60 illegal immigrants and one suspected human smuggler.

In the other bust, Mission Police helped agents apprehend 27. Authorities said agents took down the third stash house on Tuesday with the help of the Edinburg Police Department, resulting in the arrest of 28 illegal immigrants and two suspected human smugglers.

To report suspicious activity, agents say you may call the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector's toll-free telephone number at 800-863-9382.

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