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Law enforcement officers intercepting criminal enterprises involved in smuggling undocumented immigrants through South Texas are reporting an increase in the number of times their arrests also reveal drug possession.
In a report filed this week by the Encinal Police Department, officers confirm that two smuggler arrests over a three-day period included the discovery of narcotics.
Patrol officers halted a Dodge Ram pickup truck near Milemarker 41 on IH-35 at Encinal late Tuesday night, May 9, for a traffic violation and identified the driver as a 43-year-old Diana Terrazas Hernandez of San Antonio. When they approached the woman, however, a backseat passenger in the Dodge opened a door and fled into the roadside brush.
Officers immediately detained Hernandez and her 47-year-old passenger.
A search of the vehicle revealed three undocumented immigrant men in the bed of the truck and black tar heroin in Hernandez’ purse.
The woman was charged with state jail felony possession of a controlled substance and three third-degree felony counts of human smuggling and was transported to the La Salle County Jail at 2 a.m. Wednesday. She was released on bond two days later.
On Friday evening, May 12, approximately three miles from their earlier traffic stop, Encinal police halted the driver of a Ford F-150 pickup truck and identified him as Gilberto Chapa, 35, a San Antonio man with known gang ties to the Tango Blast criminal organization, Chapa was reportedly driving on a suspended license.
Police say Chapa allegedly consented to a search of the vehicle and officers discovered 67 Xanax bars that the man had attempted to conceal in a tin box behind a sound system speaker.
Emergency dispatchers confirmed Chapa was wanted on several warrants issued out of La Salle County for a number of Class A misdemeanor offenses, including assault causing bodily injury. Chapa was transported to the La Salle County Jail at 8 p.m. Friday and booked on new charges of giving a false report to a police officer and possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 3. He was released on bond the following day.
Encinal Police Chief Pablo Balboa is reporting his department is averaging an interception rate of two human smuggling cases a day that involve vehicles transporting undocumented immigrants.
“We are also apprehending walkers that are trying to surrender,” the police chief said.