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A 17-year-old Iraqi national who was found traveling in the front seat of a sport utility vehicle engaged in the transport of undocumented immigrants this month was holding a 9-mm Sig Sauer pistol in his lap, according to arresting officers.
A report on the case indicates the young adult identified as Rahmatallah Sabti listed a San Antonio address and was the cousin of the vehicle’s driver, who faces a smuggling-related charge.
Officers from Dimmit County reportedly encountered the men Thursday afternoon, March 4, when they attempted to effect the traffic stop of a sport utility vehicle on FM 133. Agents of the US Border Patrol were summoned to assist in the case when the vehicle came to a halt near the intersection of Crisp Road in La Salle County, the report showed, and the two front-seat occupants were found to have picked up passengers.
Three further adults were traveling in the vehicle, two on the back seat and one in the truck of the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse, according to investigators. All were listed as Iraqi nationals and had entered the United States illegally.
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office reported this week that investigators saw Sabti holding the 9-mm handgun in his lap and noted that he appeared to have dropped its ammunition clip onto the vehicle’s floorboard.
“That tells us the suspect was handling the gun,” Chief Deputy Armando Romo said of the teen’s behavior.
Sabti was remanded into custody in a Class A misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of a handgun. He was released on bond after 19 hours.
Other occupants of the vehicle were transferred to the custody of the US Border Patrol for processing.
“This case is an example of what we could be dealing with at any time of day, any day,” the chief deputy said. “Not all of the undocumented immigrants coming into Texas are from Mexico, or even from Central and South American countries. Some of them come from the Middle East.”