Texas Governor Calls for 10-Year Minimum Sentence for Aiding Human Smugglers

Texas Governor Calls for 10-Year Minimum Sentence for Aiding Human Smugglers
A Texas state trooper arrests a U.S. citizen who was transporting three illegal aliens to San Antonio, in Kinney County, Texas, on Oct. 20, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Bill Pan

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he will seek a mandatory sentence of at least ten years in prison for those who help cartels smuggling illegal immigrants into his state.

“I’m calling for 10 year mandatory minimum prison sentences for Texans who aid the cartels by transporting illegal immigrants. It is a growing crime where Texans are lured in by cartel cash,” Abbott wrote on Twitter Wednesday night. “We must end it this legislative session.”

Currently, under the state’s penal code, human smuggling is a third-degree felony that, if convicted, carries a sentence of at least two years and as many as ten years in prison. In addition, the offender could be fined up to $10,000, according to the penal code.

This is not the first time Abbott calls to toughen punishment for assisting human smuggling. In December 2022, he said offenders should spend at least five years in prison.

“I’m getting damn tired of Texas residents smuggling people into our country illegally,” Abbott wrote on Twitter at that time. “I will be seeking a mandatory minimum of at least five years in prison for anyone caught committing this crime.”

Human smuggling and trafficking at the Texas-Mexico border caught nationwide attention in late June 2022, when 53 illegal immigrants died after they were left trapped in a sweltering tractor trailer on the outskirts of San Antonio. Investigators have since been identified 48 people who died at the scene as citizens of Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.

According to the investigators, the truck had encountered mechanical issues, prompting the smugglers to pull over and abandon the vehicle with the passengers still locked inside.

Federal prosecutors have charged four individuals involved in the deadly smuggling operation. Two of them are Texans and the other two are Mexicans.

The alleged truck driver, 45-year-old Texas native Homero Zamorano, was charged with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death. If convicted, Zamorano faces up to life in prison or possibly the death penalty, according to the Justice Department.

Also charged was Christian Martinez, a 28-year-old Texas man who allegedly discussed the smuggling operation with Zamorano.

In September 2022, Abbott signed an executive order designating drug cartels as terrorist organizations, saying that they contributed to the surge of illegal border crossings.

The cartels are not only responsible for smuggling hundreds of millions of lethal doses of fentanyl into Texas, but also “smuggle humans across the Texas-Mexico border and subject them to sexual assault, human trafficking, assault, extortion, and other dehumanizing, violent, and heinous acts,” the order stated.

Along with his executive order, Abbott sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris requesting they classify Mexican drug cartels operating in Texas as terrorist organizations.

“The cartels’ destruction reaches far beyond our state line,” Abbott wrote. “Cartel assets could then be frozen, weakening the financial support of trafficking activities. In addition, federal investigators and prosecutors could aggressively pursue the enhanced criminal sentences that apply to drug traffickers who fund foreign terrorist organizations.”

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