A pair of teens were arrested and charged with human smuggling after one of the boys led highway troopers on a high-speed vehicle chase in southern Texas, authorities said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said a 16-year-old male driver and his 15-year-old passenger were apprehended, and each now faces charges for transporting a group of illegal immigrants in Hidalgo County.
On Nov. 22, the driver of a Chevy SUV led troopers on a high-speed chase on U.S. 281, police said.
Dashcam footage shows that during the chase, the SUV pulled over and a group of illegal immigrants bailed out of the vehicle and fled on foot into the wilderness. One DPS trooper was able to arrest one illegal immigrant from Mexico, the department said.
Meanwhile, the driver sped down the highway. A trooper was able to use a tire deflation device to disable the fleeing vehicle, forcing the driver to stop.
Troopers then pursued as the driver fled on foot, jumped over a ranch fence, and attempted to escape into the brush. The 16-year-old was chased down and arrested by police.
A passenger, 15, then exited from the brush and surrendered to state troopers, DPS said.
Both juveniles were charged with human smuggling and evading arrest. They were transported to a juvenile detention center, authorities said.
“We continue to see an increase in human smuggling events along the southern border involving juvenile drivers. Criminal smuggling organizations are recruiting juvenile drivers through the use of social media platforms. This is particularly dangerous to not only the juveniles involved but those who are smuggled for profit,” Texas Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Olivarez said in a statement.
“As part of Operation Lone Star, Governor Abbott implemented and directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to increase commercial motor vehicle safety inspections to ensure commercial drivers are following state and federal regulations, and enhance public safety. Commercial vehicles are used often for human smuggling as criminal organizations use commercial vehicles to blend in with the legitimate trucking industry,” Olivarez added.