Texas authorities stop Uber driver smuggling several illegal immigrants
Texas law enforcement announced this week that it stopped a human smuggling attempt involving an Uber driver, as authorities continue to stop smugglers from getting illegal immigrants into the U.S.
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said the incident occurred on Thursday when a DPS trooper stopped a black Jeep SUV for a traffic violation in Mission, Texas.
During a roadside interview, the trooper determined that the five passengers in the rear seat and cargo area were Mexican illegal immigrants.
The 22-year-old Uber driver, an American citizen, said he was selected by a client to pick up in a parking lot near the Rio Grande and asked to drop them off at another parking lot.
Authorities said transnational criminal organizations have been expanding their reach and their smuggling methods as they seek to get more illegal immigrants into the U.S.
'Criminal Smuggling Organizations have been able to expand their criminal enterprise and further exploit illegal immigrants for profit,' Texas DPS said in a statement. 'Human smuggling has increased drastically, and criminals are advancing their smuggling methods involving vehicles, commercial trucks, trains, planes, and ride shares involving Uber. Human smuggling is a multibillion-dollar trade and more profitable than drug smuggling.'
In a statement, Uber said human trafficking and smuggling are 'global issues with devastating impacts on communities.'
'Rideshare is not immune to these societal challenges, which is why we continue to do our part to raise awareness through education which can help drivers spot the signs of human trafficking and report it,' a spokesperson said. 'Also, drivers can cancel trips if they feel unsafe, and we have a dedicated Public Safety Team ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation.'
Uber's public safety team includes a number of former law enforcement officers and paralegals to assist law enforcement with their investigations. It also has a global investigations team that includes FBI investigators and other law enforcement agencies.
Texas authorities have also been involved in a growing number of police chases across the border as they track down smuggling operations.
Last week cops stopped more than a dozen illegal immigrants in a stolen bucket truck in Encinal, Texas – authorities were able to apprehend 11 of the 15 illegal immigrants who fled the vehicle after it went off-road.
Texas DPS last week found more than 100 migrants being smuggled in a dump truck in one incident. In another, authorities stopped a vehicle attempting to carry more than 60 illegal immigrants.
This week, authorities are investigating a car crash in La Joya after a truck driver evaded law enforcement, crashed and rolled his vehicle over in a dirt road. The 12 occupants were ejected, and one was killed. Texas DPS said it suspected human smuggling.
Border states are facing an ongoing migrant surge that saw more than 2.3 million migrant encounters in FY 2022, on top of the more than 1.7 million encountered in FY 21. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last year instituted Operation Lone Star, which has seen law enforcement and other resources surge to the border in order to combat illegal immigration.
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