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Several Coastal Bend counties have emergency declarations due to human smuggling

In Brooks County, there's a surge in human smuggling cases which now have law enforcement involved in chases and bail outs on a daily basis.

JIM HOGG COUNTY, Texas — The human smuggling problem is becoming so bad that some of our county governments have signed off on a declaration of emergency. Goliad and Jim Hogg Counties are among those appealing to state leaders for help.

In Brooks County, there's a surge in human smuggling cases which now have law enforcement involved in chases and bail outs on a daily basis. Jim Hogg County Judge Juan Carlos Guerra said the same thing is happening in the Hebbronville area.

"There's more bail outs and like I mentioned earlier, these are going on during the day, residential areas, school areas, you name it and they’re all over," Guerra said.


One smuggler, who was a US citizen, was captured along with eight immigrants. Officers also found a loaded handgun inside the vehicle. Border Patrol also pointed out that it found 30 weapons already this year during these immigration stops.

Last year, at the same time, they had only found 11 weapons inside the smuggler's vehicles. The county judge here said human smuggling in his county is so bad that he and the commissioners court here filed this declaration with the states emergency management division.  

A number of other counties around the state have done the same thing including Goliad County.

"We are requesting from the governor to send additional help whether it be National Guard to assist our local law-enforcement our local Border Patrol or our local DPS till we get a grip of it," Guerra said.


Judge Guerra pointed out that the number of smuggling cases the county is seeing now is well above what they have usually handled in the past.

"Where we were seeing maybe one bail out every three or four weeks now we’re seeing one or two or three bail outs almost weekly," Guerra said.


With more human smuggling incidents taking place throughout South Texas, the judge found out that border patrol had moved over two dozen agents out of the Hebbronville area and down to the border.

"Right off the bat, based on the information from Border Patrol, we have 25 agents who are no longer here temporarily," Guerra said.


So far, the judge has not heard back from the state but he did find out that a few more DPS officers have been moved to the county. 

He feels that it’s still not enough because residents are complaining that when they call for help on a smuggling incident it can now take an hour or more before someone from law-enforcement shows up.  

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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