One person is dead and another seriously injured following a rollover crash in Wharton County, Texas, that may have involved a human smuggling operation. The crash took place nearly 300 miles north of the Texas-Mexico border.
The Wharton County Constable’s Office Precinct 2 posted photos on Facebook regarding a fatal rollover crash that possibly involved a human smuggling vehicle. Officials confirmed one person died in the Friday morning crash while a second had to be airlifted to a hospital due to serious injuries. Ten other people fled into the surrounding farmland.
Following the crash, officials reported that ten people fled into the surrounding farmland. There was no additional information posted about those people.
“It certainly appears to have been a human smuggling operation, Wharton County Precinct 2 Constable John Szymanski told Breitbart Texas in a phone interview on Saturday. “Witnesses reported multiple people fleeing from the crash and running down to the river.”
The crash occurred on U.S. Highway 59, a well-known human and drug smuggling corridor. Constable John Szymanski posted that the cause of the crash was most likely an equipment failure. It appears at least 12 people were packed in the vehicle.
“The overloaded conditions of the vehicle appear to have caused a tire to blow out,” the constable said. “The driver then lost control and rolled, pinning one person underneath the vehicle.”
Szymanski said the decedent had a Honduran identification card and the picture appeared to match. A female with a Salvadoran identification card was also injured and required a Life Flight helicopter crew for transportation to a Houston hospital, he said.
Due to the circumstances of having to manage highway traffic and the treatment of the injured and deceased, the other occupants were not found. The constable said several cell phones were found a the scene having been abandoned by those who fled.
Three days earlier, another human smuggling incident took place in the same area. The Wharton County Sheriff’s Office posted a report on Facebook regarding a vehicle pursuit that ended with the arrest of an alleged human smuggler and four Guatemalan migrants.
A Criminal Interdiction Unit with the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop a Chevrolet pickup truck for a traffic violation, sheriff’s office officials reported. The driver, later identified as Cipriano Garcia III, refused to stop and led the deputy on a pursuit that reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.
Law enforcement officers from Wharton and Fort Bend Counties and the Richmond, Texas, Police Department joined in the pursuit that ended with the driver left the roadway and plowed through a farmer’s fence into a saturated pasture. As the truck came to a stop, several people bailed out and fled on foot, officials stated.
An extensive search that included assistance from a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter aircrew led to the apprehension of six people.
“Due to the excessive speed and reckless manner in which Garcia was traveling, he was charged with Smuggling of Persons with Likelihood of Serious Bodily Injury or Death, a 2nd Degree Felony and Evading Arrest or Detention with a Motor Vehicle, a State Jail Felony,” sheriff’s office officials stated. “A search of Trevino revealed that he had Methamphetamine, Ecstasy, and Xanax on his person. He was charged with Smuggling of Persons, a 3rd Degree Felony, Possession of a Controlled Substance in Penalty Group 1 > = 1 G < 4 G, a 3rd Degree Felony, PCS PG 1 < 1 G, a State Jail Felony, and PCS PG 3 < 28 G, a Class A Misdemeanor.”
The deputies turned four migrants from Guatemala over to U.S. Border Patrol agents for processing.