(The Center Square)
Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe says what’s happening along the southern US border with Mexico is actually an invasion.
“We’re dealing with a silent onslaught of military-age males,” Coe told Center Square as he described what his deputies have faced more than the past two years.
He spoke to The Center Square during the Operation Lone Star Task Force multi-day operation, during which law enforcement officers rescued foreign nationals from a burning vehicle and revived a trafficked five-year-old girl who was stuck inside a car trunk. .
Coe said the “silent invasion” is primarily seen by military-aged men between 17 and 45 entering the U.S. illegally, who are captured on video wearing camouflage and carrying backpacks. The county is overlooked by a center square. Many are armed and dangerous, committing robberies and engaging in shootouts with law enforcement, Coe said.
The men are believed to be working for or associated with Mexican cartels. Once they arrive in major US cities, they act as “Trojan horses” with gangs and or cartel affiliates, Coe said. “They set up in our cities, take power through voting and or crime and scare local people into leaving. This is happening in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio,” he said, where crime has increased exponentially in the past few years.
“You can win a lot of wars without being violent,” he said, referring to “silent aggression” as an act of war against the US by Mexican cartels.
Coe sent out an SOS last month asking for help from other counties to arrest human traffickers in his small border county of about 3,000 people. In response, law enforcement officers from 20 agencies participated in the days-long operation that took part in The Center Square Ridealong.
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As soon as the task force started, the officials were involved in the smuggling business. He said, “The more people we have, the more effective we are” at pushing smugglers in and out “of the area.” Gotaways are those who enter the US illegally, do not request asylum or make other immigration claims, and willfully avoid capture.
A retired Border Patrol agent, Coe took over on Jan. 1, 2017, and says he’s never seen what he’s seeing in his entire life. He said things first started getting worse after President Joe Biden changed border security and immigration policies and have only gotten worse since then.
For example, in 2022, their deputies made 877 arrests, filed 3,057 felony charges. Of all the criminal cases filed that year, 927 were immigration-related involving illegal aliens or smugglers, he said.
Although these numbers are unprecedented, the number of those who fled is still high. About 21,500 foreign nationals were tracked down by cameras traveling through the county on foot but were not arrested last year. That’s at least seven times the size of the county’s population. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
“Another unknown,” he said, “is what’s not on camera. You can see two or three people on camera but shadows are also visible behind them indicating that there are more people. The camera shows only 2 to 3 people.
In 2022, Kinney County sheriff’s deputies arrested 3,192 illegal aliens, compared to 1,124 they arrested in 2021, according to sheriff’s data.
In 2022, they had 741 traffickers, compared to 169 in 2021, Ko said when he reviewed data with Center Square.
His deputies were involved in 139 pursuits and 136 bailouts in 2022 compared to 61 pursuits and 56 bailouts in 2021.
In 2022, they seized 580 vehicles, compared to 179 in 2021.
In 2022, deputies seized 89 firearms transported by alleged smugglers, including some stolen ones, up from 29 in 2021.
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Coe said despite increased resources and funding through Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star, concerns and crime continue to rise.
So far in 2023, his efforts and stats are already breaking last year’s records across the board, he said. At least 6,600 illegal aliens were caught on camera crossing the county on foot, he said. “That’s an average of 150 a day. These are people who don’t get caught,” he said.
Their agents have already arrested 398 illegal aliens and 96 alleged smugglers so far this year. He said he was involved in about 30 vehicle pursuits, including 27 bailouts, almost all involving human traffickers.
Most of the alleged traffickers they are catching are Houston men between the ages of 17 and 25. Earlier this month, they arrested a 14-year-old boy who evaded arrest while driving a stolen car, he said.
Many of the alleged smugglers they arrest are US citizens responding to social media ads hoping to make several thousand dollars per load. Those caught included licensed security guards, lawyers, couples and teenagers, Ko said.
Americans are coming to Kinney County from all over the US Initially, they are from Oklahoma and Louisiana; Now they’re coming from as far away as Georgia, California, New York and New Jersey, he said.
Without support from the state, their efforts would be severely limited, he said. “We couldn’t do what we do without Operation Lone Star. Our county attorney handled 4-5 cases a month. Now every time we have court it’s 150 and we have court four times a week. We used to have district court once a month, now 100 cases each time. The jury pool is busy. , and we could end up with two grand juries convening each week.
Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.