Syrian men among human smugglers apprehended through Operation Lone Star


(The Center Square) – Texas Department of Public Safety troopers continue to apprehend human smugglers in border counties, as well as people from countries of foreign concern, including Syria, as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star.

In Maverick County, DPS troopers apprehended a group of 31 illegal border crossers, including two Syrian men. In the group were 18 men and 13 women who are citizens of Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela.

All 31 were arrested and charged with criminal trespass and transported to a state processing center next to the Vale Verde County Jail.

Nearby in Kinney County, a female DPS trooper stopped the driver of a Ford F-250 on US-277 at night. After pulling over on the side of the road, the driver, an alleged human smuggler, Kelvin Conde, and five illegal border crossers bailed out and ran towards the brush, attempting to climb over a rancher’s fence.

With assistance from Border Patrol, Conde and three Mexican nationals in the country illegally were located and arrested. Conde, a Venezuelan national, was also in the country illegally.

He was charged with smuggling of persons and evading arrest. The three Mexicans were referred to Border Patrol. Two evaded capture, referred to as “gotaways.”

An estimated more than two million gotaways have illegally entered the country since January 2021, The Center Square has reported.

In Hidalgo County, a DPS trooper stopped the driver of a Ford F-250 towing a horse trailer on US-281, also at night. The highway is known as a major smuggling corridor, which extends from McAllen north to other highways that go to San Antonio or northeast to Corpus Christi and then Houston. In this case, the driver, Jose Guadalupe Salinas from Palmview, Texas, consented to having his trailer searched and voluntarily opened the side hatch.

Hiding inside were 27 Mexican nationals who illegally entered the U.S. in the Rio Grande Valley who were crammed in a storage area of the trailer.

Even though it was at night when temperatures are slightly cooler, those inside were “distressed and sweating profusely” because of extreme heat and no ventilation in the trailer, DPS said. Among them were three women who were severely dehydrated and required medical attention. Several were about to pass out, one trooper said.

All 27 Mexicans were referred to Border Patrol. Border Patrol also took custody of Salinas and is filing federal human smuggling charges as well as charges of likelihood of serious bodily injury/death.

Since Gov. Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, OLS officers have apprehended more than 512,300 illegal foreign nationals and made more than 43,400 criminal arrests, with more than 38,200 felony charges reported, according to the latest state data.

They’ve also seized more than 487 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill every man, woman and child in the United States and Mexico combined.

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