Beyond the Brush: DPS, Border Patrol track down suspected smugglers

Beyond the Brush: DPS, Border Patrol track down suspected smugglers
3 months 1 week 4 days ago Thursday, February 15 2024 Feb 15, 2024 February 15, 2024 11:33 PM February 15, 2024 in News - Local

In a Channel 5 News exclusive, Lily Celeste and photographer Mark Vecchio went on two separate ride-alongs with Texas Department of Public Safety troopers patrolling the border under Operation Lone Star.

Under the ongoing, state-funded brush operations, troopers are assigned to brush teams in a joint effort with Border Patrol agents. 

The brush operations started in 2023 as a way for the state to deter human and drug smuggling.

A ride-along in Palmview led to DPS Sgt. Guadalupe Casarez responding to a group of migrants found in Palmview. 

RELATED STORY: Beyond the Brush: A ride along with DPS troopers patrolling the border

With the migrants in Border Patrol custody, Sgt. Casarez joins the search for the people who brought them across the river.

Agents tell Casarez they believe the two suspected smugglers are on a private ranch nearby. 

Casarez said the property is commonly used by smugglers, and property owners welcome law enforcement's help. Without it, he says, it's a losing battle to protect their property.

Within five minutes, Casarez spots who he's looking for, but he has trouble reaching backup.  

The two suspected smugglers eventually walk away.

Despite an hours-long search with DPS, a team of Border Patrol agents, a highly trained search dog, a drone, and a helicopter, the suspected smugglers were not found, and the search is called off.

Sgt. Casarez says it's not unusual.

DPS has stopped thousands of migrants under Operation Lone Star, but Casarez says thousands more have escaped.

For Casarez – and the other DPS troopers assigned to the brush operation — there's still plenty of work along the river.

Watch the video above for the full story. 

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