Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County Sheriff’s Office traffic stop turns into human smuggling investigation

Stephens County Sheriff’s Office traffic stop turns into human smuggling investigation
June 20
16:46 2022

By Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

This afternoon, a Stephens County Sheriff’s deputy intercepted a vehicle transporting six Mexican citizens who are in the United States illegally, according to a media release from the Sheriff’s Office.

At about 2:10 p.m. Monday, June 20, Deputy Ryan Drake conducted a traffic stop for a traffic violation about three miles east of Breckenridge on U.S. Highway 180 East near County Road 182. Six Hispanic men were inside the 2005 Ford Expedition with an Arizona license plate. They said they were traveling from Odessa to Dallas, Sheriff Kevin Roach said.

The contact transitioned into a human smuggling investigation with Roach, Chief Deputy Justin Rose and Stephens County Constable Wayne McMullen assisting.

The investigation revealed that all six men are from Mexico and had entered the United States illegally, Roach said in the media release. U.S. Customs and Border Protection was contacted and confirmed that all of the men, including the driver, are illegal immigrants. U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be completing the investigation and will determine if federal charges are filed against the human smuggler, Roach said.

All six men are detained in the Stephens County Jail on immigration detainers issued by the U.S. Custom and Border Protection Agency.

None of the men seemed to be in any type of distress, and the case is considered to be human smuggling rather than trafficking, Roach said.

“Smuggling is basically, they’re here and they’re voluntarily being moved, probably for some sort of payment. (In smuggling cases) them or their family and paid to be brought into the country illegally,” he said. “Trafficking is normally against their will, a slavery type thing. It’s usually children and women are more susceptible to trafficking, but men also are trafficked. That’s usually when they’re moved against their will and have done forced labor or something along that line.”

This is the second human smuggling situation the Sheriff’s Office has stopped this year. In January, Drake stopped a van carrying 13 men from Mexico and Guatemala. They were picked up by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency shortly after being detained by the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Cutline, top photo: An image released by the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office shows the vehicle that was  stopped Monday afternoon, June 20, on U.S. Highway 180 East. Six men from Mexico were in the vehicle and were determined to be in the United States illegally, according to a media release from the Sheriff’s Office. (Courtesy Photo)

 

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