Brooks County, Texas Chief Deputy Sheriff Benny Martinez told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday that Texas children are being recruited by criminals to smuggle people and drugs into the United States from Mexico.
“We, who live in and near border communities where cartel drug and human smuggling operations are prevalent, face additional public safety issues such as home invasions; felony vehicle evasions; pseudo police stops; extortion, kidnappings, sexual assaults of illegal aliens, and the recruitment of Texas children to transport drugs, people, and stolen vehicles across the border.
“In most cases, smugglers/coyotes drop off undocumented crossers and drug smuggling backpackers on the south side of the Falfurrias checkpoint. They are led by the smugglers and made to walk east and west of Highway 281, moving north through private ranch lands, to then get picked up on Texas Highway 285 by other smugglers who will then transport them on the Gulf Coast corridor to cities north," Martinez said.
Martinez also testified that more than 400 bodies have been found during the last six and a half years in his area.
“We estimate that we recover less than half of all those who perish. From 2008 to 2014 the Brooks County has spent almost $700,000 for body recoveries.
“The gangs and cartels have been responsible for shootings at law enforcement officers patrolling the Rio Grande River and they’ve contributed to the deaths of undocumented crossers on Texas ranches and farms.
“Until the United States is serious about securing the border, the transnational criminal organizations will continue to operate on the border, within small rural communities, and throughout all major cities of this nation.
“I hope and pray that this committee will recommend strong measures be taken and acted upon to do just that," Martinez said.