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FIRST ON FOX: Texas law enforcement carried out an operation on Tuesday that led to the arrest of a suspected cartel-associated smuggler who was bringing seven illegal immigrants to the United States on a raft.
Rafts have been crossing the border for months without any resistance or challenge from authorities, and Tuesday marked the first time the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Texas National Guard caught a smuggler in the act offense.
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The 17-year-old smuggler – believed to have low-level cartel ties – resisted arrest and assaulted soldiers, but was eventually arrested. He had already been arrested twice for human trafficking, the DPS said in a statement.
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With the smuggler were seven other illegal immigrants, including a Salvadoran criminal previously deported and convicted of sexual assault.
“Under the direction of Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Military Department are committed to securing the Texas border. As part of Operation Lone Star (OLS), the Texas DPS continues to enforce all state violations of law, including but not limited to criminal trespass, criminal mischief, smuggling, and human trafficking,” said DPS in a press release.
“As illegal immigrants continue to flood into the Texas-Mexico border and criminal organizations continue to exploit the current border crisis, the Texas DPS and Texas National Guard are taking action to crack down on smugglers and deter mass migration, and stand ready to protect the people and property of the state of Texas.”
There were more than 1.7 million encounters with migrants in fiscal year 2021, and more than 192,000 in September alone.
Texas lawmakers, including Governor Abbott, blamed the Biden administration for the border crisis — Abbott shifting Texas DPS resources to fight the surge. During a recent influx of Haitian migrants at the border, the DPS created a wall of vehicles to prevent migrants from illegally entering the United States.
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The state making a down payment of $250 million on a new wall construction project after the Biden administration abruptly ended the project in January. In addition, he emptied the prisons to detain more illegal immigrants and worked to arrest those who enter illegally, including the additional deployment of DPS resources.
Meanwhile, officers have seen a dramatic increase in vehicle chases, with some areas seeing more than a 1,000% increase in the number of vehicle chases – often filled with illegal immigrants – in the same period last year.