Operation Lone Star Combats Increasing Smuggling Attempts By Cartels

April 21, 2023 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the Texas National Guard are continuing to work together to secure the border; stop the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people into Texas; and prevent, detect, and interdict transnational criminal behavior between ports of entry.

Since the launch of Operation Lone Star, the multi-agency effort has led to over 367,000 illegal immigrant apprehensions and more than 27,000 criminal arrests, with more than 25,000 felony charges reported. In the fight against fentanyl, Texas law enforcement has seized over 382 million lethal doses of fentanyl during this border mission.

Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration's refusal to secure the border. Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Joe Biden's open border policies.


Governor Abbott Honors Brave Border Sheriffs Securing Border In McAllen

Governor Abbott this week honored the brave men and women serving as sheriffs along the southern border at the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition Annual Spring Cooperative Meeting with the Southwestern Border Sheriff's Coalition in McAllen. During his remarks, the Governor thanked the border sheriffs for their many contributions to Texans’ public safety, including stepping up in the Biden Administration’s absence to protect the nation from the record number of deadly drugs like fentanyl, lethal weapons, and illegal immigrants flooding across the border.

“To serve as a sheriff is to answer a higher calling, and each of you show true courage, dedication, and a strong desire to protect your fellow man,” said Governor Abbott. “The Biden Administration may not believe our border is in crisis right now, but we set aside political differences to help our border communities and Texans. Thank you for your hard work securing the border and battling the deadly scourge of fentanyl gripping our state and nation.”

WATCH: DPS Lt. Olivarez Explains Cartels, Criminals Are Exploiting Border Crisis

DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez joined Fox Business this week to discuss how President Joe Biden’s ongoing border crisis is only expected to get worse if federal immigration policies are not enacted to combat record levels of illegal border crossings and transnational criminal activity. Mexican cartels are using social media platforms such as TikTok, and more recently Craigslist ads, to lure American citizens into carrying out their illegal smuggling operations while developing more sophisticated methods to avoid detection.

“We are two years into this, and the federal government has facilitated the worst border crisis we have ever experienced in this country,” said Lt. Olivarez. “When you have lax border policies and there are no consequences on the federal side, these criminal smuggling organizations are going to take full advantage of that. That’s what they’ve been doing for the past two years.”

DPS Trooper Arrests Human Smuggler Recruited Through Houston Craigslist Ad

A Spring man reportedly responded to a Craigslist ad out of Houston to drive illegal immigrants from the Texas-Mexico border to Austin. A DPS trooper stopped the 42-year-old driver on US-277 in Val Verde County and discovered four illegal immigrants, including a minor, inside the vehicle.

The driver was charged with two counts of smuggling of persons for pecuniary benefit and one count of smuggling of persons under the age of 18. He was recruited through a Craigslist ad facilitated by a criminal smuggling organization.

WATCH: Texas National Guard Scouts Detect Illegal Immigrants On Private Land

Texas National Guard cavalry scouts patrol residential areas along the Texas-Mexico border for signs of illegal immigrants. In these areas, soldiers often find load vehicles used by human smugglers to transport illegal immigrants to another destination. Illegal immigrants will also often damage private ranch properties by cutting through or breaking fences and destroying property.

“The main thing down here is criminal trespassing on ranches and private properties,” said Spc. Matthew Gaitan. “[Patrolling is] definitely helping the state out and proving the mission is doing something useful for the state as a whole.”

WATCH: DPS Stops Human Smuggling Attempt, Driver Tries Flirting With Trooper

A DPS trooper stopped a driver in Jim Hogg County attempting to smuggle two female illegal immigrants from El Salvador in her vehicle. During the traffic stop, the driver began flirting with the trooper and admitted she picked up the illegal immigrants from a stash house in Mission. Another driver was supposed to drive the illegal immigrants to Corpus Christi. The illegal immigrants were referred to Border Patrol, and the driver was charged with smuggling of persons.

DPS points out that the driver’s smuggling method is used to smuggle female immigrants into the United States, where some of the women are forced into debt bondage and work off the debt through forced labor and sex trafficking.

DPS Special Agents, Troopers Discover 24 Illegal Immigrants During Traffic Stop

On Tuesday, DPS special agents with the Criminal Investigations Division were conducting surveillance in an El Paso area known for human smuggling. A DPS trooper stopped a minivan after noticing it disregarded a red light, and inside the vehicle the trooper and special agents discovered 24 illegal immigrants. All were referred to Border Patrol. The driver from Venezuela is charged with smuggling of persons.

WATCH: California Driver Arrested For Trying To Smuggle 10 Illegal Immigrants

DPS troopers arrested a California driver for human smuggling after a traffic stop in Kinney County. During the stop, several illegal immigrants bailed out and attempted to run into the brush. With the assistance of the DPS brush team and Border Patrol, the illegal immigrants were apprehended. A total of 10, all from Mexico, were referred to Border Patrol.

WATCH: Human Smuggler Leads DPS Troopers On High-Speed Pursuit

A human smuggler led DPS troopers on a high-speed pursuit in Hidalgo County earlier this week. After losing control, the driver, who was an illegal immigrant from Mexico, crashed the vehicle and was arrested for evading and smuggling. Four illegal immigrants were apprehended and referred to Border Patrol.

Texas National Guard Assist In Capture Of Human Smuggler, 2 Drug Bundles

Texas National Guard soldiers last week assisted federal law enforcement in the capture of a human smuggler and two bundles of illegal drugs. Using advanced optic equipment, soldiers detected the smuggler and seized the two bundles, which weighed more than 52 pounds and had a street value of over $42,000.

Texas National Guard Prepares For End of Title 42 Next Month 

Texas National Guard soldiers and their law enforcement partners along the border are preparing for the end of Title 42 on May 11 and the record surge of illegal immigration expected to follow. Soldiers and Texas State Guard engineers have placed miles of razor wire along the border as deterrence and continue to turn back illegal immigrants who attempt to cross.

DPS Brush Team Arrests Groups Of Illegal Immigrants For Criminal Trespass

A DPS brush team in Kinney County tracked and arrested multiple groups of illegal immigrants for criminal trespass. The Honduran guide of one of the groups used night vision goggles to navigate a private ranch.

DPS Criminal Investigations Division Arrests 3 Drug Smugglers From Mexico

DPS Criminal Investigations Division personnel arrested three drug smugglers from Mexico who breached a portion of the border wall carrying three bundles of marijuana weighing approximately 137 pounds. All three now face felony charges for possession.