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      Valley police support tougher human smuggling bill

      Rio Grande Valley police are supporting a bill that would it easier for prosecutors to convict human smugglers.

      Senate Bill 146 makes it a state jail felony to intentionally transport an undocumented person with the intent of hiding the individual from law enforcement officers or from fleeing arrest.

      The Texas Senate voted to approve the bill on Tuesday and it is headed to the Texas House of Represenatives.

      San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez said he supports the bill because it gives police officers more options out on the streets.

      The bill makes it a state jail felony to intentionally transport a person with the intent of hiding the individual from law enforcement officers or fleeing arrest.

      Under the current law, prosecutors have to prove that a person trafficked someone with the knowledge that the person will be forced into labor or services.

      Texas State Sen. Chuy Hinojosa (D-McAllen) said his bill will solve that problem and give prosecutors additional tools to address trafficking.

      The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

      If approved, it would go Texas Gov. Rick Perry for signature and then go into effect on September 1st.

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