The intruders were all turned over to agents with the United States Border Patrol and eventually sent back to Mexico.
Carrizales was speaking to a crowd of more than two dozen residents and Tea Party Patriots of Beeville members in a meeting room of the Joe Barnhart Bee County Library Thursday evening, Aug. 7, when he told them the numbers.
The sheriff said deputies are no longer just apprehending Mexicans or even Central Americans. They are coming across the Texas-Mexico border from all over the world.
Deputies discovered one of the illegals who came across the border recently had citizenship in both Great Britain and Libya.
“He kept chanting death to America, and he was turned over to the FBI.”
The increase of illegal immigrants coming up from Central America has resulted in the capture of suspected members of drug gangs from that part of the world.
Carrizales said his deputies have even found members of MS-13 in the groups of immigrants who cross the Rio Grande.
There is big money for the drug cartels in Mexico who are branching out into the immigrant smuggling business.
Mexicans and “other than Mexicans” (OTMs) are paying from $3,000 to $5,000 a person to be smuggled into this country. The farther away from the Texas border the immigrant is when he starts the journey, the more he or she pays the smugglers.
Years ago, Chinese immigrants were paying $10,000 a person to the coyotes to be smuggled into Texas.
“OTMs are given a court date. Unless you are a Mexican national you aren’t deported,” the sheriff told those at the meeting.
Carrizales said if someone from China is apprehended and given a court date three years from the date he is apprehended, he gets on the telephone, calls his cousin in China and says, “Come on over.”
The sheriff then showed a series of dash camera videos taken in recent months by his deputies as they chased down and eventually stopped vehicles carrying illegal immigrants through Bee County.
One of those videos showed a deputy driving 90 miles per hour along a country road trying to catch a vehicle in June.
He said there were 18 immigrants in the vehicle, and only four were apprehended.
In the past, coyotes drove vehicles provided by their bosses. The Bee County Sheriff’s Office could confiscate those vehicles and either sell them at auction or convert them to patrol vehicles.
“The trend has changed,” Carrizales said. These days, the smugglers use rented cars or stolen vehicles to transport immigrants and illegal substances into the country. Those vehicles must be returned to the owners.
“When I took office in 2005, I realized there weren’t enough resources to deal with the problem,” Carrizales said.
Illegal immigration is not a new problem. Carrizales said the business of smuggling immigrants into the United States has been going on for years, long before he was elected sheriff.
Recently, the situation has gotten worse.
Shortly after Carrizales was elected, he and Sheriff Michael O’Connor of Victoria teamed up to form the Texas Sheriffs Association. Today, lawmen from 22 Texas counties belong to the organization.
Several years ago, Carrizales and O’Connor used the clout of the association to get more counties in Texas included in the federal government’s Operation Border Star program. Until then, only counties right on the border were receiving funds to help them stop illegal immigrants from entering the country.
Today, Operation Border Star provides more than a half million dollars to counties to help pay their deputies overtime for apprehending illegal immigrants.
After showing another dash camera video of a vehicle full of illegals running through fences to escape deputies, one of the women at the meeting asked who would be responsible for repairing the damage.
Carrizales said there are no funds available for the county to assist in repairing fences.
Another woman at the meeting asked why deputies do not set up roadblocks to catch illegals. Carrizales said that the dedicated efforts of his deputies have had a similarly positive outcome on traffickers.
The sheriff said coyotes are given road maps showing the best routes for their smugglers to take when entering the country and on a lot of those maps, Bee County has been crossed off, suggesting that they should avoid the county. But they come through this county anyway.
When one woman asked why the federal government will not station National Guard troops on the border to stop the flow of immigrants, Tea Party President Anna Diaz said the current administration in Washington, D.C. refuses to take that step.
One man at the meeting asked Carrizales if his deputies had found any “safe houses” used by coyotes in Bee County. He said they have and more than 600 pounds of marijuana was discovered in one such house not long ago.
Carrizales urged those who live in the countryside to call his department whenever they see something suspicious; “but not to engage these people,” the sheriff warned.
“Protect yourselves. This is Texas. You have that right,” Carrizales said.
The sheriff said his deputies have not yet experienced a dramatic increase in unaccompanied juveniles coming through the county. Those children are being stopped in the counties south of here.
The sheriff said he believes the increase in the number of young children coming across the Texas-Mexico border is a way to “clog up the system” in the U.S.
“There is no other country in the world that if you cross the border illegally they won’t put you in jail,” Carrizales said.
The sheriff asked those at the meeting to:
•Be aware of your surroundings.
•Check your property.
•Report suspicious behavior.
•Do not approach suspicious persons or packages.
•Call the sheriff’s office at 362-3221 or call 911 if the situation is an emergency.
Carrizales also asked residents in the countryside to lock their vehicles and take the keys with them.
“Take care of yourself,” the sheriff said. “That’s priority number one.”
He also agreed with one woman who said, “Get a dog.”
Deputy Lt. John Davis told the group that the department is asking the commissioners court for more deputies and a patrol sergeant.
Carrizales said state and federal agencies are getting most of the increased border funding. Local agencies are not getting the money.
Larry Smith, a candidate for Congressional District 34, told the group that because OTMs are given a court date three years into the future and then released, “If you cross the Rio Grande, you’re basically an American for three years.”
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5220, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.