Teens smuggling humans across the border on the rise

Teen human smuggler

Authorities in Hidalgo County are battling a rise in teens who smuggle humans. A repeat offender was back in juvenile court facing several charges. Authorities believe a 15-year-old human smuggler has smuggled immigrants into the country more than once and has been deported twice.

Hidalgo County authorities said coyotes use their age to get them in and out of the system, making them a threat to the community.

Human smugglers are now turning to teens to do their dirty work."If the federal government can TMt touch them, then what do they have to lose?"

Because of their age, teen smugglers can be in and out of the system quickly and often becoming repeat offenders. That is what landed a 15-year-old immigrant back in juvenile court today.

"We've seen him here before; it TMs not the first time, the judge said.

Judge Jesse Contreras let him out on probation on his first offense a year ago. It was a decision he made because of a limited budget.

"The court had to do a balancing act in the sense that whether we are going to waste ex amount of monies on a non-citizen, or place them on probation so they can be deported, Judge Contreras said.

Since then, the teen has been charged with several counts of auto theft and human smuggling. One smuggling attempt turned deadly when DPS chased the teen and opened fire on his truck killing three Guatemalan immigrants.

"He didn TMt care if he had a wreck or not or whether he was shot at and that kind of mentality you have to fear for the community as a whole."

District Attorney Rene Guerra said teen smugglers, like the 15-year-old, are becoming a problem for Hidalgo County.

"These people are becoming more dangerous and we need to put a stop to them, he said.

Guerra added combating teen smuggling will take cooperation on a federal and local level, otherwise teens will continue to abuse the system.