(Bethany Blankley, The Center Square) Texas law enforcement officers working through Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission Operation Lone Star are continuing to apprehend human smugglers. This past week, they rescued children abandoned by smugglers and seized Russian ammunition brought into Texas from Mexico.
Since OLS was launched in March 2021, Texas DPS troopers alone have rescued more than 900 children smuggled into Texas from Mexico, authorities say.
Within one 24-hour period, troopers found four children who’d been abandoned by coyotes, or human smugglers, after they’d illegally entered Texas from Mexico. The children were left near the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass, Texas, in Maverick County. If DPS hadn’t found them, they’d have likely died due to temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, authorities said. As with other children and people rescued by Texas law enforcement and Border Patrol agents, they are provided with medical care and treated for dehydration.
In neighboring Starr County, in a separate instance, DPS and Texas game wardens seized a backpack full of Russian-made 7.62 ammunition. The ammunition had been abandoned near the Rio Grande River, brought in by gotaways – those who illegally enter and evade capture. It’s unclear how much ammunition was smuggled in that wasn’t seized.
Ammunition seized at the border by Texas Department of Public Safety officers
Texas Department of Public Safety
In Kinney County, which is still seeing large numbers of smugglers, DPS troopers are continuing to apprehend them. In one instance, troopers working with Florida Highway Patrol participating in OLS apprehended a Mexican national illegally in the U.S. who’d smuggled Mexican military age men into Texas, authorities said. The registration of the vehicle was invalid. The driver didn’t have a driver’s license or car insurance. The passenger told the trooper they were coming from Florence and were going back to Florence.
They were driving on RR-131, a known smuggling route leading to and from Eagle Pass, through Kinney County to Highway 90. Once on the highway, it’s roughly a two-hour drive to San Antonio and a five-hour drive to Houston.
When the officers opened the back of the Chevy Trailblazer, two men were laying down hiding in the back. They also found a camouflage backpack with a gun inside. The passenger said it belonged to the brother of the man who sent her to the border to pick up the Mexicans.
The driver, a Mexican national, and passenger from Florence, Texas, were arrested and charged with smuggling of persons and unlawful carrying of a firearm. The three Mexican nationals hiding inside the vehicle were turned over to Border Patrol.
In another instance on Highway 90 in Kinney County, a driver from Houston led DPS troopers on a high-speed vehicle pursuit at night. The driver weaved in and out of lanes and crossed over the opposite side of the highway in front of oncoming traffic. The driver bailed out and ran into the brush but was caught. He was arrested and charged with smuggling of persons and evading arrest. Five illegal foreign nationals inside the vehicle were apprehended and turned over to Border Patrol.
A Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper, with assistance from the Florida Highway Patrol, stopped a vehicle in Kinney County and discovered numerous illegal immigrants trying to conceal themselves inside. The driver, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, and the passenger from Florence, Texas, were arrested. and charged with smuggling of persons and unlawful carrying of a firearm. Three illegal immigrants from Mexico were referred to Border Patrol.
Texas Department of Public Safety
Since OLS was launched, as of August 25, 2023, OLS officers have apprehended over 420,800 illegal foreign nationals. They’ve also made over 33,600 criminal arrests with more than 30,500 felony charges reported.