After eight people were killed as a suspected human smuggler attempted to evade police, the Texas Department of Public Safety has revealed the identity of the alleged driver. 

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol sources have confirmed that 17-year-old Luiz Alfredo Mencias-Escobar from Honduras is responsible for causing the head-on crash that killed himself, two Americans, and five illegal aliens from Honduras. 

According to Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Christopher Olivarez, the accident occurred Wednesday morning. Mencias-Escobar, who was attempting to smuggle five illegal aliens, was trying to evade Zavala County Sheriff’s officers in Batesville, Texas. He attempted to pass an 18-wheeler in a no-passing zone, hitting another car head-on. The other vehicle carrying two Americans, identified as Jose Lerma and Isbael Lerma, was engulfed in flames. 

Records show that Mencias-Escobar is from Honduras and crossed into Eagle Pass, Texas, in April 2019. Border Patrol agents released him with a Notice to Appear in November, where a judge ultimately ordered his removal. 

In April, Mencias-Escobar was stopped by the Zavala County Sheriff’s Office, when he was a passenger in a failed human smuggling attempt. Records show that the Sheriff’s deputies turned him over to Border Patrol, who then handed him to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS then returned the teenager to his mother, who lives in Houston. 

This latest incident comes after a record-breaking number of encounters with illegal crossers at the southwest border. 

In Fiscal Year 2023, there were 2,475,669 illegal alien encounters along the southwest border. Combined with the number of known “gotaways,” this brings the number of known illegals attempting to cross into the United States or successfully crossing to more than three million.

On top of the immigration crisis, car chases and other human smuggling incidents have taken place in Texas. 

The day before the major car crash took place, a video released by Texas DPS and posted by Fox News Correspondent Bill Melugin showed illegal aliens bailing out of a human smuggler’s stolen SUV. The illegal aliens were seen running into the brush while being pursued by Texas DPS troopers and border patrol agents near Del Rio, Texas. 

Another incident took place in June, when authorities chased a Houston driver who was smuggling illegal aliens. The man reached a speed of more than 100 mph before crashing into a fence. 

Last summer, one of the deadliest human smuggling cases in modern history took place near Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. More than 40 illegal aliens were found dead in an abandoned tractor-trailer. Later, it was revealed that the death toll had risen to more than 50 deaths. 

Currently, the Texas Legislature has been tasked with passing border security legislation in a fourth special session. A proposed measure would create a criminal penalty for illegal entry or illegal presence in the state and authorize the removal of illegal aliens. 

So far, the Senate has passed the legislation. It is scheduled for a vote in the House on Tuesday. 

The fourth special session expires on December 6. 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.