Fmr. University of Texas Football Star Accused of Migrant Smuggling

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Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe disclosed a surprising human smuggling suspect apprehended in his jurisdiction this week, Ronnie Dinell Major Jr., a former University of Texas football star. Major reportedly told deputies he was once on the Longhorn roster during interviews.

The 6’8 340-pound Major was arrested after deputies reportedly discovered seven passengers in his vehicle who crossed the Rio Grande illegally. Major faces seven counts of smuggling of persons. The charge is a third-degree felony in Texas, punishable by imprisonment for 10 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

In 2015, Major was offered a full-ride scholarship after graduating from a Huntsville, Texas, high school and was a highly ranked offensive tackle. In 2017, Major’s collegiate play was cut short by injury. Major then pursued a career in professional wrestling. According to arrest reports, Major is now working as an intern at an Austin area hospital.

The increase in migrant crossings has kept law enforcement across the state busy as smuggling organizations attempt to move migrants inland from the border. Mexican cartels frequently rely on drivers with no apparent ties to their organizations. They are recruited through word of mouth and social media platforms.

The recruitment methods help to insulate cartels. The mostly teen and young adults who respond often chase the promise of quick, easy money.

A recent San Antonio Express-News report highlighted cases where young adults responded to posts on TikTok, Telegram, and Facebook seeking help transporting migrants away from the Texas border.

The cartel advertisements do not warn of the criminal consequences and potentially deadly results.

In March, another Austin resident’s attempt to earn easy money ended in tragedy when eight migrants he transported died after a head-on collision near Del Rio. Sebastian Tovar allegedly led a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper on a 50-mile chase that killed migrants after some were ejected from his truck.

Attorney Kevin Boyd told the Express-News Tovar was driving in tandem with another truck carrying a dozen more migrants. Boyd disclosed six other cases in his care involving defendants, all under the age 25, recruited via Facebook to drive migrants.

The charges against Major are part of the growing list of human smuggling incidents moving through the Texas court system. According to Sheriff Brad Coe, as of January 31, Kinney County (population 3,300) is prosecuting 56 felony smuggling cases.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.


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