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Texas, Federal Agencies Clash Over Human Smuggling Enforcement Operation

Holland McKinnie
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In the wake of two deadly human smuggling incidents, Port Mansfield Police Chief David Mayes has called out federal authorities’ lack of cooperation and promptness. On Friday, U.S. prosecutors announced the arrests of six suspects in connection with the two incidents, which resulted in the deaths of at least eight migrants.

Operation Justice For All, the effort to track down the suspects, involved federal, state, and local authorities and was led by U.S. Attorney for Texas Alamdar Hamdani. Court documents show that the suspects were indicted on January 10 and arrested this week.

The first incident occurred in February 2022 when a boat carrying migrants from South Padre Island to Corpus Christi capsized near Port Mansfield, resulting in the deaths of four migrants and one human smuggler and serious injuries to two others. The remains of a ninth migrant have not been found. 


The second case occurred in March 2019, when a pickup truck carrying migrants from the Rio Grande Valley to Houston rolled over, killing four migrants and injuring several others.

During the news conference, Hamdani did not comment on the involvement of the Gulf Cartel in the human smuggling cases. However, law enforcement sources confirmed to Breitbart News that the group was indeed connected to the Gulf Cartel which dominates criminal activity in the area.

Chief Mayes expressed his frustration with the lack of cooperation from federal prosecutors in the aftermath of the incidents. He revealed that his department was the first on the scene in 2022 and that federal authorities helped in the search for the other victims. 

However, federal prosecutors did accept jurisdiction until Texas Rangers obtained warrants. Mayes said his agency received no cooperation from federal prosecutors. It was not until the news conference that he learned who was arrested.


Mayes also highlighted the danger posed by cartel smugglers who use rough weather and tides as cover to move migrants, knowing that there is minimal patrolling from law enforcement. He revealed that in addition to the limited resources of his small department, the Texas Game Wardens are the only other authorities consistently out in that area finding smugglers.

“Lives are lost, we have multiple situations where someone reports to us that they saw someone get swept out to sea. These are deaths that will never have a name,” Mayes said.

The arrests of the six human smugglers on the chaotic open southern border are a positive development, but more needs to be done to address the issue of human smuggling in Texas and across the southwestern border with Mexico. Chief Mayes’ call for greater cooperation and promptness from federal authorities is a reminder of the failures of the Biden administration to effectively cooperate with local law enforcement in protecting all American citizens.

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