(The Center Square) – Texas National Guardsmen and women and law enforcement officers working through Operation Lone Star continue to apprehend human smugglers and build fortifications at the border to block illegal entry.
Since Gov. Greg Abbott launched OLS in March 2021, OLS law enforcement officers have apprehended more than 383,000 illegal foreign nationals and made more than 29,000 criminal arrests, with over 26,000 felony charges reported. They’ve also seized more than 418 million lethal doses of fentanyl, more than enough to kill everyone in the United States.
“Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border,” Abbott said. “Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Joe Biden’s open border policies.”
Many of the human smugglers being apprehended near the border are from Houston, one of the largest human trafficking hubs in America, law enforcement officers have explained to The Center Square.
A recent apprehension of a man with a Texas identification card, who is from Houston, shows the length to which smugglers are willing to go to avoid getting caught. In this case, he led DPS troopers on a high-speed chase reaching 115 mph on a rural road in Kinney County, according to law enforcement. He sped through neighborhoods, along county roads and went off road and crashed through a ranch fence. This type of damage is what occurs on a regular basis, costing private citizens a combined several million dollars that insurance companies won’t cover, law enforcement officials say. To help cover their damages, the Texas legislature passed legislation, which Abbott signed into law this month.
After the car crashed, the smuggler and two Mexican nationals who’d illegally entered at the southern border bailed out of the vehicle and ran onto private land and were caught. DPS troopers trekked through the brush to apprehend them.
The Houston man was arrested and charged with evading, criminal mischief, and smuggling of persons. Of the Mexicans, the man was charged with evading and criminal trespass, the woman was referred to Border Patrol.
OLS officers are also engaged in interdiction along train tracks, primary routes for human smugglers. After entering the U.S. illegally, smugglers and illegal foreign nationals make their way north, following power lines and railroad tracks, officials have explained to The Center Square. When they can jump into grain cars, they do because it’s a way to hide and get farther into the U.S. without getting caught.
However, Texas Rangers and a Special Operations Group with an OLS Train Interdiction Team are working with Border Patrol agents to apprehend people illegally using trains to get farther into the U.S.
In one recent apprehension, officers located and arrested a Honduran man who was hiding in a grain hauler in Maverick County. Using facial recognition and biometric data, they confirmed he’s an MS-13 gang member on the Transnational Organized Crime Watchlist.
In just the few first months of the year, Border Patrol and CBP agents apprehended 125 known suspected terrorists at the southern border alone.
At the riverbank in Eagle Pass, Texas, Texas National Guard soldiers are continuing to clear heavy brush and erect miles of concertina razor wire. Their efforts have successfully deterred and prevented people from illegally entering Texas between ports of entry, they say.
“The soldiers have been pulling some very long days to accomplish this operation in a very short amount of time,” Major Michael Riley, Task Force Eagle operations officer, said. “We have brought out equipment to remove the significant vegetation out there that has impeded our ability to both access the riverbank and has provided a safe haven for transnational criminal organizations to smuggle people and goods into the United States.”