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In a Small Texas County, a Sheriff Battles With Illegal Immigrant Crime

In a Small Texas County, a Sheriff Battles With Illegal Immigrant Crime

Car pursuits, drug trafficking, and lifeless our bodies forged out by human smugglers are widespread occurrences in Refugio County

REFUGIO, Texas—An unlawful alien should journey by means of no less than 5 counties past the U.S.–Mexico border to succeed in Refugio, Texas, inhabitants round 7,300.

Most unlawful aliens nabbed by native regulation enforcement have been on their method to Houston, simply 165 miles northeast, stated Sheriff Raul “Pinky” Gonzales.

“Houston is like a staging area for them. And from there, some of them go to California, some go to New York, a lot of them go up north to Boston,” he stated in an interview on Nov. eight. Car pursuits are a widespread prevalence in Refugio County, which is only one of 254 counties within the state.

Simply that morning, two totally different teams of unlawful aliens have been captured. In one occasion, a vigilant driver noticed a hand protruding of the mattress of a pickup truck and referred to as authorities.

9 unlawful aliens and the smuggler, or “coyote,” have been subsequently arrested.

In a second incident on the identical morning, a car pursuit from a neighboring county entered Refugio. The chase ended when the car, carrying 9 unlawful aliens and their coyote, stopped and all 10 tried to flee on foot. Regulation enforcement scooped all of them up.

Gonzales stated he additionally has discovered the our bodies of unlawful immigrants dumped by smugglers.

“They put them in trunks in cars, they put them in trucks—where the temperature gets to 130, 120 something degrees—no water, no food, no air. And they die. And they’ll just throw them out on the side of the road,” he stated.

illegal immigration Sheriff’s Deputy Luis Flores stops a automotive for a visitors violation in Refugio County in Texas on Nov. 10, 2018. He found the automotive had not been registered since April 2016. Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Occasions

Small Violation, Huge Crime

On patrol, Sheriff’s Deputy Luis Flores goals for making two car stops per hour—24 in a shift.

With 276 potential visitors violations in Texas, he has a lot to work with. Over a number of hours, he stopped automobiles that didn’t have a license plate mild, or have been lacking a tail mild, or whose plates have been partially obscured, in addition to drivers who have been rushing, and extra.

“I look for small violations, which gives probable cause for stopping,” he stated. “I have a conversation—see where they’re going and what they’re up to. I look for cues and indications of other activity.”

However his objective isn’t handy out tickets—more often than not, drivers get a easy warning or quotation. The objective is to seek out the larger crime—medicine, unlawful aliens, warrants out for arrest, and so forth.

“I love picking apart people’s stories,” Flores stated. He listens for an excessive amount of or too little element of their explanations. Flores is ex-military and has spent two years as a deputy in Refugio. Certainly one of his most satisfying finds was throughout a visitors cease of an aged ladies driving an previous Nissan.

“I felt very victorious when we found $500,000 hidden in her bumper,” he stated. “Money is super hard to find—it doesn’t have an odor and it’s easy to hide.”

The deputies patrol alone, however there are often no less than two automobiles out, in addition to the native police officer. They again one another up continuously.

Flores stated he requires backup on the first signal of hassle, “ever since a group of aliens that I stopped told me that if my backup didn’t arrive so quickly, they would’ve got in a gun fight with me,” he stated.

What the deputies do in Refugio may look like small potatoes, however contemplating three of the 19 terrorists concerned in 9/11 have been pulled over in 4 separate incidents within the months previous to the fear assaults, a visitors cease might flip into one thing vital.

‘They’re Not All Good’

Gonzales stated that if he needed to, he might in all probability spherical up tons of of unlawful immigrants dwelling in his county, however as a regulation enforcement officer, he concentrates on criminality.

“I don’t care if you come from Mars, if you’re committing a crime here in my state or my county, I’m going to tend to you accordingly,” he stated.

On Nov. eight, native Refugio Metropolis police officer Tammy Gregory picked up a man for going 50 miles per hour in a 35 zone.

illegal immigrationillegal immigration Refugio Metropolis Police Officer Tammy Gregory arrests an alleged unlawful immigrant Jose Carrasco Leon in Refugio County, Texas, on Nov. 10, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Occasions)

She found the person, Jose Carrasco Leon, was from Mexico. He didn’t have a U.S. driver’s license, however had lived in the USA for 16 years and was married to a U.S. citizen.

Gregory stated it’s probably the person had not legalized his standing, as a result of Border Patrol contacted her to request custody of him as soon as the police had completed processing him.

Gonzales stated drug trafficking was widespread in his county. “We catch a lot of illegals with drugs,” he stated. “We caught the cartel No. 2 drug runner here in my county. He was on a train smuggling drugs.”

In Might final yr, deputies seized 500 kilos of marijuana and a cartel member, after railroad officers observed three individuals touring on a Southern Pacific freight practice that had originated on the border.

“They loaded up in Brownsville, heading to Houston. How much of that goes on and how much do we miss?” Gonzales stated.

illegal immigrationillegal immigration Refugio County Sheriff Raul “Pinky” Gonzales exhibits a photograph of marijuana bales that native regulation enforcement seized in Might from a practice in Refugio County in Texas on Nov. eight, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Occasions)

Lately, the sheriff needed to cope with the slaying of two of his canine by unlawful aliens making an attempt to evade regulation enforcement.

The 2 monitoring canine have been educated to seek out misplaced youngsters or Alzheimer’s sufferers, and they might bark as soon as they situated the individual.

However this time, when the canine discovered the group of unlawful aliens within the brush and barked to alert the deputies the place they have been, they have been killed.

“They strangled two of our dogs for no reason. These guys that killed these dogs, they could have very well killed one of my deputies or any other law enforcement,” Gonzales stated.

“And these are the type of illegals that we deal with. … Not all of them come here in good faith. A lot of them come here to do wrong, get in gangs, and get involved with sex trafficking—they’re not all good.”

On the Border

Gonzales is all too acquainted with criminality on the southwest border. Earlier than coming to Refugio County, he spent years as a boat captain on the Rio Grande in Texas—the dividing line between the USA and Mexico.

“We picked up bodies. Like in a week, we’d pick up to 10 bodies,” he stated. “A lot of times we’d see kids that had drowned, trying to swim across by themselves. The parents are the ones that sent them by themselves.”

He stated he helped a lot of teenage women and would ask them how they received throughout, and why they have been there with out mother and father.

He was typically advised, ‘Well, our parents told us to come here.’”

“And they’d tell me horror stories about what they had to go through to come here. They were raped, they were vandalized, a lot of them. They’re used as sex slaves. [The smugglers] bring them across and use them as sex slaves here in the United States,” Gonzales stated.

“So a lot of time, these people are victimizing their own people for revenue, for money, and that’s what people don’t understand.”

Gonzales stated he would typically cease on the grocery retailer earlier than a shift to purchase additional drinks and meals for the unlawful aliens he would undoubtedly encounter.

“I feel very sorry” for them, he stated. “They’re human beings, you know. We’re supposed to love them. But we as law enforcement, we took an oath that we would abide by the law and protect and serve our people.”

He stated it’s very exhausting to try this when you possibly can’t monitor individuals who cross illegally and evade regulation enforcement.

“You know once they blend in with the population, they’re gone,” he stated. “They can commit serious crimes, [then] they can just pack up and go back home and we’ll never find them.”

illegal immigrationillegal immigration Refugio County Sheriff Raul “Pinky” Gonzales in his workplace in Refugio County, Texas, on Nov. eight, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Occasions)

Gonzales stated 80 to 90 % of the unlawful aliens he picked up on the river weren’t from Mexico.

“They were from El Salvador, Honduras, from India, China—we’d catch a lot of Chinese—people from all over the world,” he stated. Many stated they traveled by boat to Brazil, the place they met a smuggler who escorted them by way of Mexico and to america.

“Some people are here to better their lives—and it doesn’t make it right—but not all of them,” he stated.

Gonzales stated he has caught a lot of gang members, particularly MS-13, in addition to criminals who had been deported. In one case, two males who had been deported after serving jail sentences have been again a week later, illegally, with a group of Hondurans.

“These Hondurans weren’t the type of guys that came to look for work. They were tattooed up, you know. One of them didn’t have an ear, they were just scar-faced. I mean, you could tell they weren’t good hombres,” he stated.

The Dream Act Impact

Gonzales stated he’s glad President Donald Trump has enhanced border safety and despatched active-duty army to assist cease unlawful crossings.

“We can’t [have] this group of people come and invade our country. This caravan, the majority of them are males—flying their flag,” he stated. “To me, that’s intimidating.”

He stated he thinks most of the politicians who typically aspect with unlawful immigrants are in search of future votes.

“The difference between these [illegal] immigrants coming in now, they’re trying to bring their country into our country,” he stated. “We are the United States of America, and I think this oughta be a Christian country the way our forefathers perceived it to be.”

Nevertheless, Gonzales stated the unlawful immigrants he catches aren’t as assured as they have been through the Obama period.

“When Obama was in office, these illegal immigrants were very cocky with us. They went on about ‘the Dream Act, Obama, the Dream Act,’” he stated.

“They were very cocky. Like, ‘hey, we’ve got our rights and we’re going to become citizens because of the Dream Act Obama’s introducing.’”

‘We Already Have Bad People’

Gonzales stated most People don’t perceive what regulation enforcement offers with so far as unlawful alien crime.

“It’s very, very hard to do our job,” he stated. “We already have thugs that are citizens here, we already have bad people—we don’t need any more.”

“As a sheriff, as a leader in law enforcement, I’m very concerned about my people’s safety. I’d feel horrible if somebody got injured, seriously injured, or killed, because [of]—I don’t care if they’re illegal or not, but especially—an illegal person. They shouldn’t have been here to begin with.”

The sheriff offered a snapshot of what it takes for regulation enforcement to cope with one car pursuit of an unlawful alien.

“It costs a lot of taxpayers’ money chasing these people, [it] costs a lot of man hours. When a county deputy or a DPS state trooper gets on the chase, you get all different law enforcement agencies involved in the chase—you know, we’re trying to back each other up. There could be 12 officers for one chase, for four or five hours. A lot of times, they’ll wreck their vehicles, damage their vehicles,” he stated.

“It’s a burden to us, it’s a burden to the people of the United States.”