Law enforcement authorities thwarted a human smuggler’s attempt to transport more than 20 migrants away from the Texas border region in a utility bucket truck. The incident began early Saturday morning near La Gloria, Texas, a small community thirty miles from the Rio Grande. The vehicle burst into flames on a private ranch after crashing through a fence and coming to a rest in tall brush.
Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement attempted to stop a suspected human smuggler shortly before sunrise on Saturday. The suspected smuggler and several suspected migrants escaped from authorities by scattering into the brush shortly after the crash through a rancher’s fence. According to a law enforcement source, not authorized to speak to the media, there were no injuries during the incident. In all, authorities arrested eleven migrants.
The blaze destroyed the vehicle despite attempts by the San Ysidro Fire Department to extinguish the flames. Border Patrol agents at the scene took the captured migrants arrested into custody. The incident, according to the source, highlights the dangers of migrant smuggling on rural highways near the border area.
As fewer migrants are allowed to apply for asylum and gain release at the border due to recent changes in border enforcement policies, the illicit migrant smuggling attempts on rural border roadways have increased. As reported by Breitbart, one small sheriff’s department in Texas is seeing a significant spike in migrant smuggling activity.
In March, Zavala County deputies stopped six vehicles found to contain migrants on one single day. As with Starr County, the vehicle stops often involve high-speed pursuits, stolen vehicles, property damage, and most concerning to local law enforcement officials, the frequent presence of loaded weapons within reach of the human smugglers.
Chief Deputy Ricardo Rios of the Zavala County Sheriff’s Department told Breitbart Texas the extra work brought about by the increase in human smuggling activity on local highways impedes his department from providing necessary services to county residents.
Human smuggling under federal law is a felony offense and carries a sentence of up to 20 years for aggravated circumstances such as severe injury or death. When prosecuted under Texas statutes, human smugglers face at a minimum, a charge of a third-degree felony that can carry fines up to $10,000 and a prison term between two and 10 years.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said he wants the legislature to pass a bill increasing the penalty for human smuggling to a mandatory ten-year minimum sentence. He said the current law “is not serious enough. So I want to mandatory 10 years behind bars for anyone who is caught smuggling somebody in Texas.”
As reported by Breitbart Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has asked current Texas legislators to increase the criminal penalties for human smuggling in hopes of creating a stronger deterrent to the illegal activity many communities are experiencing. 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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