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Smuggling operation in South Bexar County busted; 26 treated for injuries or heat-related illnesses

Medical personnel at the scene of a human smuggling incident near Atascosa County on Thursday, June 6, 2024.
Courtesy photo
Bexar County Sheriff's Office
Medical personnel at the scene of a human smuggling stash house near Atascosa County on Thursday, June 6, 2024.

The Bexar County Sheriff's Office on Friday identified the seven people arrested after officers raided a shack with no air-conditioning near Atascosa County that was filled with people held in a human smuggling operation.

Twenty men and six women, with ages ranging from 18 to 54, were removed from the structure and received medical treatment, according to a BCSO statement on Friday, including 12 people who were moved to University Hospital.

The statement explained that they were treated for "minor injuries and heat related illnesses. Only one migrant remained hospitalized for dehydration and cardiac related issues." There were no deaths reported.

The men and women were from Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela, and Guatemala.

The seven suspects — six men and one woman, with ages ranging from 21 to 45 — faced a variety of charges. Three of them faced 26 counts of human smuggling, six of them were charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, one was charged with evading arrest, and three were charged with operating a stash house.

They were booked into the Bexar County Jail, and their vehicles were seized.

The shack was located in the 2700 block of Oak Island, south of Loop 1604, near the Atascosa County line.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said the migrants had been transported to the property on a trailer from Laredo. He said his office received that information earlier in the day. The sheriff explained that the trailer was spotted by investigators and followed to the property. He said it all appeared to be part of a larger cartel smuggling operation.

Salazar said the migrants were well-concealed in the trailer. "It's a gooseneck trailer, long with two corrugated pipes on it that are like culvert type pipes," he said. "That was the decoy load. Underneath is a large false compartment that these people were laying in down there, exposed to the elements, basically laying on really hard mesh."

Salazar said the victims told investigators they were in the hot trailer for three hours during their journey to San Antonio. He said one of the migrants, a Guatemalan woman, told them she had paid $16,000 to be smuggled into the country.

He added that rifles and bulletproof vests were found inside shack. The sheriff also said there were corrals with dirt inside the house that may have been used for cockfighting or dogfighting.

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