(Bethany Blankley, The Center Square) Texas state troopers and local law enforcement officers continue to apprehend truckloads of single military age men attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.
Law enforcement officers have explained to The Center Square that they estimate the number of people they apprehend are a fraction of those coming through, the majority of whom aren’t caught.
In El Paso, Department of Public Safety special agents thwarted a human smuggling operation after observing a group of foreign nationals being loaded into a Penske rental truck on El Paso’s west side after they’d entered the U.S. illegally. They apprehended 58 citizens of Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala.
All were placed into the custody of U.S. Border Patrol agents. The driver, a Mexican national who was in the U.S. illegally, was arrested and faces federal human smuggling charges.
In the border town of Laredo, residents reported seeing numerous foreign nationals running through their neighborhood after they’d entered the U.S. illegally. Texas National Guard troops blocked off streets throughout the neighborhood to help local law enforcement apprehend as many as they could.
They helped apprehend eight individuals “by using vehicles and manpower to close off the area,” Spc. Sanchez, Bravo Company, Task Force Center, said. “We use our radio equipment to communicate with law enforcement to assist in apprehensions.”
Texas DPS special agents, working with Border Patrol agents in El Paso, found another stash house being used to house 95 Mexicans, Guatemalans and Ecuadorans who’d all entered the U.S. illegally. They were being held by smugglers prior to being sent to their next destination. Border Patrol agents apprehended 74 men, 19 women and two minors. The stash house operator was arrested and is facing multiple felony charges.
Stash houses can be homes, sheds or any structure used to hide illegal activity from law enforcement, the FBI explains, “to blend in, so they can be found even in the middle of a city or gated community.” They often create life-threatening conditions because they aren’t adequately ventilated, cooled or heated. They’re used as holding areas for a “load-up” vehicle to arrive for traffickers to transport illegal foreign nationals to another stash house or move them further into the country.
Texas DPS last September increased its cash reward to $5,000 for information leading to the identification of stash houses. Those with information are encouraged to call Crime Stoppers’ hotline: 1-800-252-TIPS (8477), submit an online tip, or submit a Facebook tip by clicking the “Submit a Tip” link under the “About” section.
Since Gov. Greg Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021, as of April 7, multiple Texas law enforcement officers have apprehended more than 363,000 illegal foreign nationals and made over 26,000 criminal arrests, with over 24,000 felony charges reported. They’ve also seized more than 380 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill everyone in the U.S.