Texas law enforcement officials bust human smuggling operation involving dozens of migrants: 'Cartel related'

Texas law enforcement officials broke up a human smuggling operation on Thursday in which 26 migrants were recovered from sweltering conditions, and seven suspected smugglers were arrested.

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office received information on Thursday morning that a human smuggling operation was taking place involving several dozen people. Sheriff Javier Salazar told reporters that the department knew the smuggling operation involved a long, goose-neck trailer traveling to a rural home outside San Antonio.

While the nationalities of all the migrants were unknown, Salazar said a Guatemalan woman within the group told officials she paid $16,000 to be smuggled into the U.S., calling it “a big money operation.”

A Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy, right, walks with a handcuffed woman during a law enforcement operation Thursday in San Antonio, Texas.  (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

The trailer, he added, was coming from the Laredo area, though it is not known whether all the migrants had just crossed into the U.S., or were here already.

After receiving the tip, the sheriff’s office and multiple other law enforcement agencies followed the trailer to the home that Salazar called an open-air shack with windows open in triple digit temperatures, no air conditioning, no running water, and buckets for toilets.

“I didn’t even see any source of drinking water,” Salazar said. “But it’s miserable conditions…and it’s just blazing hot in there.”

Investigators said they also discovered multiple bulletproof vests and long rifles behind the residence.

“I don’t know if any of those rifles were automatic or semi-automatic, but it is quite possible,” Salazar said. “I mean, obviously, those are natural things to find in a smuggling operation like this. Clearly cartel related.”

BIDEN CRITICIZED BY HIS OWN PARTY FOR ‘USING THE SAME TOOLS’ AS TRUMP TO CONTROL THE BORDER

A Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy, left, talks to a handcuffed woman Thursday in San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

When the trailer arrived at a residence, it appeared the smugglers were unloading people from the rig, but Salazar said it was a “decoy.” He explained that underneath the trailer was a large false compartment with 26 migrants lying inside.

While the migrants were transported from the border, Salazar said, they reported being in the stifling false compartment for upwards of nearly three hours.

Because the migrants were exposed to harsh elements, EMS crews responded to treat them, and transported 11 of them to nearby hospitals.

As law enforcement officials secured the residence, Salazar said, several people ran on foot. The migrants who were not treated at hospitals were taken to police headquarters for questioning.

SUSPECTED HUMAN SMUGGLER BREACHES AIR FORCE BASE A WEEK AFTER ILLEGAL MIGRANT HOPS FENCE

Authorities said they believe the human smuggling operation crossed the southern border near Laredo, Texas. (Border Patrol)

Salazar told reporters it was not known whether all 26 migrants were in fact victims. He explained that sometimes coyotes will try to pass themselves off as migrants or blend in with the crowd.

Under questioning, investigators said they hoped to weed out who was in fact a migrant, and who was not.

Salazar said all the migrants were adults, with the youngest being 18 years old.

Greg Wehner is a breaking news reporter for Fox News Digital.

Story tips and can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter @GregWehner.

Check Also

North Carolina parents live carefree life after not reporting disappearance of daughter still missing

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A North Carolina couple recently found guilty of failing to report their …

Leave a Reply

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