Number of Teens in Smuggling Cases Increasing

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WESLACO – U.S. Border Patrol says the number of Rio Grande Valley teens turning to smuggling to make money is on the rise.

The agency tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS, 58 juveniles were caught and involved in human smuggling and drug smuggling in the last four months.

Border Patrol Agent Marcelino Medina explains the areas they’re encountering the most apprehensions and juvenile recruitment is Starr and Hidalgo county lines. Cities include Roma, Rio Grande City, Sullivan City and La Joya.

Earlier in January, a teen was caught in the La Joya area trying to smuggle four passengers from Mexico and Guatemala.

Medina says many of the teenagers do it for quick cash. He explains some teens can still face harsh consequences in the court system.

“There is this misconception that just because they’re juveniles, they will not get prosecuted,” he says. “That is not the case. There are situations in which a juvenile will face the full extent of the law.”

Medina adds they’re actively working on Operation Detour, a campaign focused on going to local school districts and showing them a video of cases of students that were arrested and are now behind bars.

He says they’ve caught teenagers that vary from 13 years old to 17 years old; many involved in human smuggling.


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