UVALDE, Texas — Human smugglers are taking over the highways along the southwest border causing havoc for people from Uvalde to Del Rio.
That’s why Governor Greg Abbott said he deployed hundreds more state troopers to the area in Operation Lone Star, launching a massive crackdown on human smuggling.
Texas DPS shared dashcam video with KENS 5 showing a trooper in pursuit of a white Ford truck, trying to escape authorities off Highway 90 just outside of Brackettville.
The truck finally comes to a stop and at least 10 people bail out of the truck. Most of the migrants make a quick get away, but authorities take a woman and two minors into custody.
Since the beginning of this year, DPS State Trooper Mike O’Neal said there’s been a significant increase in human smuggling on the roadways near the border.
O’Neal is stationed in Uvalde, but travels the highways along the border including Zavala County, and said the last few months have been busy.
“Yesterday we encountered two loads and the first one had nine and then the second one had 12, and that was in about a 30-minute span,” said O’Neal.
We rode along with O’Neal on a 12-hour overnight shift, as he explained how the smugglers are moving migrants across the border into the interior of the U.S.
“What they're doing is they're finding other ways and tactics to get around Border Patrol by walking through these thick brush to avoid detection, to get smuggled further into the United States,” said O’Neal.
“What they'll do is they'll drop them off before the checkpoint and then these migrants will hop the fence or the gates and then they will be bypassed by walking through the thick brush to avoid detection and then somebody will pick them up on the other side,” he added.
O’Neal said he’s seeing multiple bail-out smuggling attempts each day, but other stops he makes while on patrol also have a link to human smuggling.
One stop while we road along with O’Neal involved a driver in a truck that O’Neal determined was stolen out of Boerne.
O’Neal said he believed the truck had already been used for smuggling.
He said Ford trucks are the most popular vehicle for smuggling.
“There are a lot of them are stolen out of San Antonio,” said O’Neal. “What I’ve heard is the security system on the Fords aren’t that good, so it’s very easy to break in to them, and steal them.”
He said the criminal organizations will strip the security system the day it’s stolen, and used shortly after for smuggling.
O’Neal said an informant explained to him, “he said if we steal it Friday, it’ll be stripped fully. By Saturday or Sunday it’ll be on the road.”
O’Neal said smugglers are exploiting the migrants to avoid getting caught, and the consequences can be deadly.
“At these high rates of speeds, 90, 80 miles an hour, and they'll crash through and then vehicle will start flipping,” said O’Neal. “Their sole thing is to get away. They don't they don't care if they injure anybody. They don't care if they crash and hurt the migrants.”