A human smuggling operation involving at least three vehicles left five illegal immigrants dead after one of the cars crashed while attempting to flee Texas sheriff’s deputies and Border Patrol agents. Two of the vehicles stopped when approached by Border Patrol vehicles while the third fled the scene and eventually crashed.
Four illegal immigrants died at the scene of the crash after the suspected human smuggler lost control of the vehicle, rolling it several times, Breitbart Texas reported on Sunday.
Border Patrol agents assigned to the Carrizo Springs Station in the Del Rio Sector witnessed three vehicles traveling in tandem along a rural highway in South Texas, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said in a written statement. The three vehicles passed a Border Patrol vehicle on FM 2664. The unusual convoy caused the Border Patrol agent to suspect the vehicles were involved in human or drug smuggling, officials stated.
The Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agent managed to stop one of the three vehicles. The other two continued down the highway. The agent radioed a description of the two fleeing vehicles to other agents, according to the statement released by CBP on Sunday evening.
A second Border Patrol vehicle managed to catch up with the convoy and stopped another of the suspected smuggling vehicles. The third vehicle continued to flee.
Agents found numerous illegal immigrants in each of the two stopped vehicles and made arrests for immigration violations.
A third Border Patrol vehicle caught up with the fleeing vehicle and attempted to stop the suspected smuggler. The driver continued to flee the scene, officials said. At that point, Dimmit County Sheriff’s Office deputies took over. An official operating under the umbrella of U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Breitbart Texas that at least one Border Patrol vehicle remained in pursuit.
Officials stated that a short time after sheriff’s deputies took over the pursuit, the driver went off the roadway into the gravel shoulder along Texas Highway 85 in Big Wells. The driver lost control while attempting to drive back onto the roadway. After losing control, the vehicle, identified as a Chevy Tahoe, rolled multiple times and ejected 12 of the 14 people inside, Dimmit County Sheriff Marion Boyd said on Sunday. The sheriff said the driver was fleeing at more than 100 miles per hour at the time of the crash. A sign that can be seen in a photo of the crash indicates a speed limit of 45 mph.
Sheriff Boyd said four of the passengers, identified as illegal immigrants, died at the scene. Emergency helicopters transported five people, including the suspected human smuggling driver, to San Antonio hospitals where one of the passengers, also identified as an illegal immigrant, died from their injuries. The driver is reported to be a U.S. citizen.
A CBP official told Breitbart Texas all of the suspected human smugglers are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Nina Pruneda confirmed to Breitbart Texas that Homeland Security Investigations is leading the investigation into the crash and that charges are expected to be filed.
Reporters asked Sheriff Boyd why the Border Patrol agents and his deputies were pursuing the vehicle. He called it “good police work.” The sheriff said these types of pursuits happen frequently as drug and human smugglers attempt to avoid arrest. He also said this is a good example of why walls are needed to secure the border with Mexico.
Officials are holding the driver of the crashed vehicle and a passenger, both U.S. citizens, for possible charges related to the human smuggling operation and the deaths of the migrants.