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Frio County deputies disrupted a pair of human smuggling attempts within 24 hours of each other last week.
Shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, deputies effected a routine traffic stop on a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe for having an expired registration sticker. The driver, identified as 29-year-old Rafaela Martinez of Houston, allegedly told deputies she was traveling back to Houston with her cousin and an unknown individual. Her two male passengers, however, did not have identification.
Border Patrol agents arrived at the scene and apprehended Martinez, who faces a third-degree felony charge for human smuggling. The two men were also taken into custody for processing.
Deputies working in the area some eleven hours later initiated a traffic stop after the driver of a 2018 Toyota Camry sedan failed to stop at the intersection of IH-35 and Hwy 57.
Honduras national Erlis Noe Gamez Orellana, 33, stopped the sedan along the interstate and emergency dispatchers confirmed the registration sticker had been expired since April 2020.
During a roadside interview with Orellana, deputies learned the man had been brought into the country illegally six years ago by a cross-border smuggler known as a coyote.
Orellana and his four passengers were turned over to Border Patrol agents.
“Although these two encounters were peaceful, we still continue to face significant threat to our county’s security each day,” Lt. Josh Longoria said.
According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office, since the launch of Operation Lone Star, multi-agency efforts have led to more than 239,849 migrant apprehensions, along with more than 14,364 criminal arrests and more than 11,666 felony charges. Over 4,710 weapons and almost $37 million in currency have been seized.