Hidalgo Co. Constables, Federal Agencies Investigating Stash Houses
WESLACO – Constables and deputies are fighting every day to crack down on illegal activity in the Rio Grande Valley.
Hidalgo County Precinct 4 constables say they get called out by federal agencies on a daily basis. They have jurisdiction to help anywhere in Hidalgo County.
Deputies sometimes take the lead on investigations to stop illegal activity. Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Constable J.R. Gaitan said a two-day operation led them Tuesday to a stash house in Weslaco.
"When we found out that one of the individuals we picked up after that pursuit at a different location, that individual gave us some information,” he said.
Bags of trash led to the residence. Inside, stained mattresses outlined the floor. The signs of life were everywhere, used clothes and blankets in a bug-infested area.
"They told me they had gotten in, and that they had found 20 immigrants over there in the back in a house behind my property,” said homeowner Nancy Juarez.
Juarez lives right next door to the home.
"I am afraid because we have our kids there. I also have my nephews and my 4-year -old daughter and my 7-year-old boy,” she said.
Juarez said she didn't notice any suspicious activity.
"No, I never saw anything. As a matter of fact, I knew the neighbor. I work at this store and he was a man that comes here every day to buy stuff. He is a normal person,” said Juarez.
Gaitan tells us stash houses are increasing. He said they work closely with Border Patrol to apprehend human smugglers.
"Yeah, we get about five to 15 calls a week,” he says. “Today's Tuesday, and we've had at least four or five already.”
Juarez told CHANNEL 5 NEWS she feels deceived.
"They used to be a normal family. I never saw anything,” she said.
Gaitan said the people found were between the ages of 15 to 25 years old. He said these calls for service are not disrupting their day-to-day operations and their work is being funded through federal grants.
Border Patrol numbers show they have more than 78 cases and 714 apprehensions related to stash houses this year.
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