Border Patrol Says Many Juvenile Suspects Aren't Being Prosecuted
Edinburg – Border Patrol agents say when it comes to prosecuting cases, age is actually the reason many suspects get off scot-free.
Spending his free time with children isn't anything new to this little league umpire. This is Danny Martinez's 14th year behind the home plate.
"Well, a lot of it is about keeping kids out of trouble. Getting to exert their time in a positive manner instead of, you know, going out on the streets and doing something illegal," Martinez told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.
The umpire and father said one wrong decision can alter a child's life forever.
Border Patrol agent Marcelino Medina agrees.
Agents caught a driver attempting to smuggle 13 people in the country illegally this week.
"The driver was arrested and determined to be a U.S. citizen who was a juvenile," Medina explained.
Medina told CHANNEL 5 NEWS that the teen was released, no strings attached. Why? "Current laws make it difficult to prosecute these juveniles. In fact, smuggling organizations are well aware of that fact and they do exploit that when they recruit juveniles," Medina told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.
Medina explained Border Patrol enforces the laws, but they don't make a decision on prosecution.
Those decisions fall on the shoulders of their federal, state and local partners.
But not all teens avoid the consequences.
“In which the smuggling event results in the fatality or severe injuries of the occupants being smuggled the teens in which case there will be prosecution," Medina explained.
He told CHANNEL 5 NEWS border patrol is attempting to combat the problem by reaching kids before criminals get a chance.
‘Operation Detour’ is a program that allows agents to head into schools and help children understand the severity of their choices.
Martinez said he hopes to keep the kids on the diamond. "They're having fun over here and they are safe," Martinez explained.
He's happy to help keep these athletes running in the right direction.
Border Patrol said teens are often tempted with cash.
They recommend parents keep a close eye on their children, especially if they start coming home with expensive items you didn't buy them.