Watch: Texas Police Marine Unit Arrests Suspected Migrant Smuggler in Rio Grande

Texas Department of Public Safety

EAGLE PASS, Texas — Texas Highway Patrol troopers are using innovative techniques to reduce the migrant flow at one of the busiest border crossing spots in the nation. In addition to plans to construct a floating border barrier in the area, the agency is using drones and its Tactical Marine Unit (TMU) to arrest migrant smugglers in mid-river in the Rio Grande. On Tuesday, the unit surprised one suspected smuggler who was caught unaware of the airboat’s swift approach.

Texas Highway Patrol drone operators initially observed the suspected migrant smuggler as he appeared to be guiding a group of migrants across the Rio Grande from the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras. The drone operators guided the Tactical Marine Unit members as they closed in on the suspected smuggler.

A Texas DPS Tactical Marine Unit arrests an alleged human smuggler in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas. (Texas Department of Public Safety)

A Texas DPS Tactical Marine Unit arrests an alleged human smuggler in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas. (Texas Department of Public Safety)

The video released by Texas DPS officials shows the airboat’s crew blocking the path of the suspected smuggler, who repeatedly attempts to avoid apprehension. At one point, the man appears frustrated and begins splashing water onto the troopers on the boat.

After circling the suspected smuggler to prevent him from fleeing back across the river, the suspect finally puts his hands on his head and surrenders to authorities. According to Texas DPS spokesperson Lieutenant Chris Olivarez, the suspected migrant smuggler now faces state criminal charges for smuggling of persons. The charge, a felony offense under Texas law, is, at a minimum, a third-degree felony and carries fines up to $10,000 and a prison term between two and ten years. Troopers identified the alleged smuggler as Jose Delgado-Zuniga — a Mexican national,

Tuesday’s Independence Day arrest is just one example of the enhanced prosecution efforts taken by the State of Texas to reduce crossings. Recently, as reported by Breitbart Texas, Highway Patrol troopers deployed under Operation Lone Star are arresting and criminally charging migrants who cross the Rio Grande in the area with criminal trespass rather than simply turning the migrants over to the United States Border Patrol for processing.

Regarding that initiative, Lieutenant Olivarez told Breitbart Texas the expansion of criminal trespass prosecutions applies to areas between the two Eagle Pass Ports of Entry, also known as Shelby Park, where Tuesday’s arrest of the suspected migrant smuggler took place.

A recently erected “No Trespassing” sign has been prominently placed in the area and includes the warning in Spanish. The sign featuring large red lettering is clearly visible from the Mexican bank of the Rio Grande. The deployment of the Tactical Marine Unit, additional Texas DPS troopers, and out-of-state law enforcement officers is part of Operation Lone Star, a Texas-based border security initiative by Governor Greg Abbott.

The out-of-state resources arriving to assist Texas authorities with border security arrived in response to an appeal for help sent to state governors by Abbott.  On May 16, Abbot sent the written request for assistance with border security prompting Idaho, Florida, Nebraska, and Tennessee to respond with additional law enforcement and/or National Guard support.

A charge of criminal trespass in Texas is considered a Class B misdemeanor and can carry a fine of up to $2,000 or up to 180 days of jail without enhancements.

The state also plans to erect a floating border barrier in the area to further reduce the flow of migrant traffic across the Rio Grande. Construction on the project, expected to cost the state $1 million, will begin in July.

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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