(The Center Square) – Law enforcement officers working through Operation Lone Star continue to interdict criminal activity at the Texas-Mexico border, including apprehending human smugglers and gang members.
Members of Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard are continuing to apprehend single young men of military age who are citizens of Mexico or countries in Central and South America who are illegally entering Texas in-between ports of entry, intentionally seeking to evade detection and capture. After committing a traffic violation, drivers of vehicles oftentimes are pursued by law enforcement, resulting in those inside bailing out into the brush to escape getting caught. Bailouts and car chases are a regular occurrence in border counties, and in counties several hundred miles north, law enforcement officers told The Center Square.
In an effort to educate the public, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department are publishing videos about the tactics being used by smugglers and those they are bringing into the country illegally.
Traffickers can earn several thousand dollars for each person they transport north, law enforcement officers told The Center Square, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 per person.
Cartel operatives use social media apps to advertise to Americans, instructing them to drive south to the border from other states, or major cities in Texas. They provide GPS locations and other instructions for pick up and drop off points as well as information about passengers, law enforcement officials say.
In Maverick County, for example, Texas DPS officers last week initiated a traffic stop of a driver of a gravel hauler on the night of Oct. 4. Instead of pulling over, the driver increased speed and led the officers on a vehicle pursuit. When the chase ended, the driver stopped and bailed out, running towards the brush. Hiding inside the hauler were 17 mostly men, all citizens of another country who entered Texas and the U.S. illegally.
In another car chase and bailout in Uvalde County on the same night, an 18-year-old sought to evade capture. Driving a Ford F150 truck, the driver led DPS troopers on a high-speed pursuit. After disabling the vehicle, he bailed out and was apprehended.
Hidden inside of the truck were 13 mostly Mexican men.
All foreign nationals apprehended by Texas law enforcement are turned over to Border Patrol agents who process them for violating immigration law. Department of Homeland Security investigators also launch investigations into alleged violations of federal human smuggling laws. Drivers who are U.S. citizens and alleged human smugglers are apprehended by Texas law enforcement and charged with allegedly violating state human smuggling laws.
While DPS troopers are apprehending some who’ve entered the U.S. illegally without being detected on state and county roads, Texas National Guardsmen and women are positioned closer to the Rio Grande River, apprehending those who cross the river in-between ports of entry also seeking to evade capture from law enforcement.
Staff Sgt. Riener Mongerson, Echo Company, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry platoon leader explains in a new video released by the Texas Military Department that the single men of military age are gang members and scouts. They engage in lookout missions for gangs and cartels to determine the best route to smuggle people and drugs to avoid detection.
“We know a lot of them are gang members because if they get away and get into the river, they throw gang signs and antagonize us,” he said. “We don’t get a lot of people surrendering in our area, mostly people who run.”
In this instance, guardsmen and women are setting up operations in areas where non-family units, mostly young single men, are crossing the Rio Grande River into Texas.
Since Gov. Greg Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021, Texas law enforcement officers have apprehended over 311,000 foreign nationals, made more than 20,500 criminal arrests, including reporting more than 18,000 felony charges. Texas DPS officers have also seized more than 337 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill everyone in the United States.
Texas’ border security mission, fully funded by Texas taxpayers, “continues to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border,” Abbott said. “Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Biden’s open border policies.”