Abbott gives Operation Lone Star update, says smugglers use TikTok to recruit people
During his third visit to the Rio Grande Valley in a matter of weeks, Gov. Greg Abbott said there's no slowing down the number of migrants crossing into the United States.
New reports show more than 18,000 migrant children are in federal custody as of April 1— none of them arrived with their parents.
At a press conference on Thursday, Abbott spoke about the Operation Lone Star program— his direct response to the growing number of migrants crossing the border.
But as the number of migrants continues to increase, Abbott said something else is concerning law enforcement.
"A concern that we have is how brazen and open the drug cartels are getting in trying to recruit people here in the state of Texas to assist them in these crimes," Abbott said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety says smugglers are going to new lengths. During the conference, Abbott showed screenshots of videos posted to the social media app TikTok, that appeared to be looking for people willing to transport immigrants across the state.
Abbott said while it's rare to see cartels operate openly, through Operation Lone Star, DPS makes about 21 criminal arrests daily— in addition to referring more than 500 immigrants to U.S. Border Patrol daily.
According to Abbott, the only people profiting from the border situation are the cartels and smugglers.
"These criminals are preying upon women and children exposing them to abuse and to terror," Abbott said during the conference. "One of those children was a six month old girl, who was thrown into the river by smugglers."
President of the National Border Patrol Council Brandon Judd said about 40% of the people crossing the border are being expelled. Judd said the remaining 60% of people crossing are apprehended and then released into the United States.