Alarming! Over 7,300 Smuggling Arrests Since Operation LONE STAR’s Inception

Alarming! Over 7,300 Smuggling Arrests Since Operation “LONE STAR’s” Inception

Human smuggling is more nearby than you think, with video game discussions, social media, and nightclub meet-ups. Smugglers are taking advantage of the southern border issue to encourage people from all walks of life to risk their freedom in exchange for quick cash.

“People from Louisiana, Florida, California, and New York have travelled to the border to smuggle illegal immigrants,” stated Lt. Chris Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety. “These are people that are not your typical criminals, they don’t have criminal backgrounds, these are first offenders.”

ArkLaTex Alert: Louisiana and Arkansas Among Top Ten Most Hazardous States for Families!

According to the DPS, more than 7,300 persons have been arrested on smuggling charges since Operation Lone Star began in March 2021. According to DPS records, those detained ranged in age from 13 to 77. Smuggling is not a new problem in Texas, but Olivarez claims there has been a shift in the types of people prepared to profit from the smuggling activity.

“We’ve arrested people that were solicitors, in the medical field, even soldiers; we arrested one of our own National Guard soldiers that was involved in human smuggling,” stated Olivarez. When KPRC 2 recently visited Kinney County, near Eagle Pass, Galveston County sheriff’s deputies pulled over a 19-year-old driver who first refused to stop. The driver and one of his passengers fled the scene as the automobile came to a halt. The two remaining passengers quickly surrendered. Deputies and state troopers soon apprehended the driver, Kevin Sanchez, and his third passenger.

“The driver claimed he wasn’t driving, but I saw him get out of the driver’s seat, so he was clearly lying,” said Galveston County sheriff’s officer Gabriel Sanchez.

Sheriff’s officers stated all three passengers were thought to be in the country illegally and were turned over to Border Patrol agents. Sanchez was detained and charged with smuggling and escaping from authorities, according to Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe.

Opelika Man Bitten! Rising Temperatures Increase Snakebite Incidents in Alabama; Do You Know What to Do Next?

Sanchez lives on Houston’s west side and denied smuggling anyone when KPRC 2 attempted to talk with him at his flat. Sanchez told us that the individuals in his car were hitchhikers he met at a petrol station and were on their way to Houston. “Why didn’t you stop for the police when they tried to pull you over, and why did your passengers try to run?” KPRC 2 Investigator Robert Arnold inquired.

“I was worried because I didn’t understand why I was being pulled over. I’ve never really been in that circumstance, which is why,” Sanchez explained.

Sanchez claimed he was worried police would shoot him and that he was only doing the men a favour by providing them a ride.

“Do you normally pick up complete and total strangers to give rides to?” Arnold responded.

“Yeah, I used to, I’m a good person, I try to do favours for people,” Sanchez replied.

Dennis A’Hern, a retired Customs and Border Protection agent is now a Houston defence attorney who has represented multiple smuggling suspects.

“How many of your clients are under 18 or 21?” Arnold inquired.

“I think it’s probably probably about 30 to 35 per cent are that young,” stated A’Hern.

“Are you getting more clients?” Arnold inquired.

“Oh, yes, right now my alien smuggling cases outweigh drug cases,” A’Hern replied.

“How are they recruiting these young kids?” Arnold inquired.

“I would compare it to an intelligence operation for recruiting human sources of information,” A’Hern added. “They find out what it is that that motivates them to maybe want to make that decision, whether it be drugs or sex or money,” A’Hern said. “A lot of times I’ve seen them communicate through Xbox, PlayStation, Snapchat.”

Olivarez also stated that smugglers have grown highly adept in recruiting young drivers via social media. According to A’Hern and Olivarez, many smugglers attract drivers by presenting a low-risk scenario. A potential driver is told that they will be paid $500 or more per person and that all they need to do is pick up two, three, or four persons and take them from one place in Texas to another; they will never have to cross the border.

“There is a clear lack of appreciation for the consequences, a clear lack of appreciation of understanding exactly what you’re doing,” A’Hern added.

Some people facing state smuggling accusations appeared perplexed by the law, while others claimed they were the victims of excessive border patrolling.

Matthew Phillips remarked, “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I’ve lost so much because of it.”

In 2022, Phillips was arrested in Kinney County and accused with smuggling.

“I didn’t cross any borders, nobody was smuggled, nobody was hidden, nobody evaded, I mean there was no law broken,” Phillips stated.

Phillips, a travelling merchandiser from Houston, stated he only picked up hitchhikers while travelling from Eagle Pass to San Antonio.

“When I noticed several folks, I thought, ‘They’re certainly in trouble,’ because it was in the middle of nowhere and dark. So I pulled over and they said they were headed to San Antonio, which I thought would be perfect since that’s where I was going and they’d keep me awake,” Phillips said.

Phillips is contesting the charges, and he says the court struggle has cost him financially and personally.

“There’s a stigma that goes with being a human smuggler that I don’t deserve,” Phillips added. “My own daughter has told me she won’t speak to me anymore. It’s a tremendous thing; it has decimated me.”

Phillips is due back in court this summer.

Since the start of Operation Lone Star, Texas state troopers have made over 40,000 arrests and charged over 37,000 people with felonies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *