Four U.S. citizens face felony charges for human smuggling after sheriff’s deputies caught them driving illegal aliens north from the Texas-Mexico border.
The Kinney County Sheriff’s Department arrested Monica Semien, Clay Knox, Joanna Bermea, and Cynthia Stewart on Monday after discovering the four American citizens were transporting illegal aliens in their vehicles.
Kinney County—situated between two legal ports of entry in Val Verde and Maverick counties—has seen an increase of illegal aliens flooding into their county on their way to other destinations in the United States.
Deputies pulled over Katy, Texas, native and U.S. Navy veteran Semien after she failed to stop at a stop sign. Law enforcement discovered four illegal aliens from Honduras in the back of her Range Rover. Semien faces four felony charges for human smuggling.
Officers then encountered Knox of Houston driving north with eight illegal aliens—six from Mexico and two from El Salvador—in his vehicle.
Later in the day, Bermea and Stewart led law enforcement on a high-speed chase where they stopped multiple times and allowed illegal aliens to “bail out” of the vehicle, a common strategy human smugglers use when fleeing police.
“Many times, this is done in the mistaken belief that drivers can avoid charges if there are no aliens in the car when they’re finally stopped,” explained the Kinney County Sheriff’s Department. “This is not the case.”
Officials charged both Bermea and Stewart with 10 counts of “smuggling persons and evading arrest with a vehicle.”
Last month, county deputies arrested more than 20 American citizens caught attempting to transport illegal aliens farther into the United States.
In an interview with News Nation, Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe said his region is overwhelmed and struggling to keep up with the influx of illegal aliens.
“We’re outmanned and outgunned,” said Coe. “I’m on my own out here.”
As Kinney County struggles to contend with rising illegal immigration numbers while receiving little help from federal officials, Texas lawmakers are looking to provide solutions.
Legislators in both the Texas House and Senate have filed measures to alleviate the border crisis, with House Speaker Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) saying, “Addressing our state’s border and humanitarian crisis is a must-pass issue for the Texas House this year.”
Texas House lawmakers unveiled a border security legislative package last month that would create a Border Protection Unit and a Border Safety Oversight Committee, among other proposed policy changes.
Texas’ 88th Legislative Session ends May 29.