17-year-old Charles Michael Smith, an American citizen from Hidalgo, Texas was arrested for allegedly attempting to transport Mexican nationals across the U.S. border. He now faces human smuggling charges, according to local reports.
The teen allegedly tried to smuggle the Mexicans using his pickup truck near the Rio Grande River. After receiving a tip regarding smuggling in the area, officers pulled Smith over on the side of the road.
ValleyCentral.com stated that there were “several” people both inside the cab of Smith’s truck and in the trunk.
Daniel Tirado, a spokesman for Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector, told Breitbart Texas that these kinds of incidents happen “every-so-often.”
“It’s not uncommon that we catch U.S. citizens smuggling, and sometimes we catch permanent residents doing it,” Tirado said. “Minors being involved in the smuggling process is a pattern that has remained steady. Smugglers know the loopholes of the law–they know that minors are likely not going be charged as adults.”
Tirado added that typically there is an adult smuggler controlling the operation remotely–they often solicit minors to carry out the actual smuggling process.
“It is a tactic that we’ve seen smugglers using recently,” Tirado said.
At this time, it is unclear if Smith will be tried as an adult or a minor.
“Every case is different,” Tirado said. “17-year-olds can definitely be tried as adults, it has happened in the past. It usually depends on the severity of the case.”
Smith appeared before Hidalgo judge, who issued a $50,000 bond.
Image from a ValleyCentral broadcast.
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