UPDATED April 6 with a statement from KIPP Texas Public Schools.

An eighth-grade science teacher from Houston faces felony charges of human smuggling after he was caught driving illegal aliens from the Texas-Mexico border toward Houston.

Authorities in Kinney County stopped a car driven by Brandan Alexis Gracia in a “very hot spot for human smuggling,” according to the Kinney County Sheriff’s Office.

Inside the car, deputies found four illegal aliens, including two young women.

“Frequently, young women are lied to and deceived by coyotes, telling them that jobs as housekeepers, waitresses, or au pairs, await them in the United States. In the end, they are often forced into prostitution,” the sheriff’s office said. “It is not clear if that was the case here.”

A “coyote” is a person who smuggles illegal aliens across the southern border for cash.

Deputies said Gracia is employed as a teacher by Houston ISD, but his LinkedIn page shows he teaches at KIPP Texas Public Schools in Houston. Texas Scorecard contacted KIPP to confirm.

KIPP responded Thursday, first saying Gracia is “not employed by KIPP Texas Public Schools,” then clarifying with a statement saying Gracia was “shortly employed” by the school but “has not been with our organization since August 2022.”

The State Board for Educator Certification shows his teaching certificate is currently valid.

Gracia faces four federal charges of felony smuggling.

Law enforcement officers in Kinney County, which is located between two legal points of entry, are grappling with a surge of Americans attempting to smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S. as Texas lawmakers debate potential solutions to Biden’s border crisis.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.