A pair of teens have been arrested and charged with human smuggling after one of the boys led highway police on a high-speed vehicle chase in South Texas, authorities said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said a 16-year-old male driver and his 15-year-old passenger were arrested and are now facing charges for transporting a group of illegal immigrants in Hidalgo County.
On November 22, the driver of a Chevy SUV led officers on a high-speed chase on US 281, police said.
Dashcam footage shows that during the chase, the SUV stopped and a group of illegal immigrants got out of the vehicle and fled on foot into the desert. A DPS agent was able to arrest an illegal immigrant from Mexico, the department said.
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Meanwhile, the driver sped down the highway. A police officer was able to use a tire deflation device to disable the fleeing vehicle, forcing the driver to stop.
The soldiers then gave chase as the driver fled on foot, jumping over the ranch fence and trying to escape into the brush. The 16-year-old was chased and arrested by the police.
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A passenger, 15, came out of the brush and turned himself in to state police, DPS said.
Both minors were charged with human trafficking and evading arrest. They were transported to a juvenile detention center, authorities said.
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“We continue to see an increase in people smuggling events along the southern border involving underage drivers. Criminal smuggling organizations are recruiting underage drivers through the use of social media platforms. This is particularly dangerous not only for the minors involved, but also for those who are smuggled for profit,” Texas Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Olivarez said in a statement.
“As part of Operation Lone Star, Governor Abbott has implemented and directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to increase safety inspections of commercial motor vehicles to ensure commercial drivers comply with state and federal regulations and improve safety. Commercial vehicles are often used for people smuggling, as criminal organizations use commercial vehicles to blend in with the legitimate trucking industry,” Olivarez added.