A Texas Department of Public Safety officer working as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star discovered 300 pounds of marijuana in Big Bend after tracking footprints for 4 miles.
In March, Abbott launched Operation Lone Star to combat illegal immigration because, he has said, the federal government refuses to address the crisis, and border communities continue to feel the impacts.
Lt. Chris Olivarez said Sgt. James Morris of Texas DPS, who tracked down the bundles, is an “expert” tracker.
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After coming across a set of footprints, he followed the trail for four miles in a desolate section of Big Bend National Park and was led to five bundles of marijuana.
Each bundle weighed about 60 pounds and were in compressed sacks spray-painted to blend in with the terrain.
The sacks had straps used by smugglers to backpack the drugs into the area before covering them up with rocks.
Olivarez said the Big Bend area is frequented by drug smugglers because of the difficult terrain, adding it could take them three days to a week after they enter the country to get to a highway.
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Att this time of year, the temperatures in this treacherous and desolate area of Texas averages in the mid-to-upper 80s.
In the summer, the temperatures are consistently in the 100s, and, according to Olivarez, immigrants go into survival mode when making the trek from Mexico into the U.S. – some have even died.
Olivarez said the officers working Operation Lone Star sometimes find drugs, like in this case, and other times the tracks may lead them to undocumented immigrants.
On Nov. 2, a state trooper pulled over a vehicle for speeding in Brackettville, Texas.
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After an investigation, the trooper found the rear passenger seats were down and six undocumented immigrants were lying down in the back of the vehicle.
Latvia Jenkins of Camden, Arkansas, was the driver of the vehicle and Kajsean Gude of Little Rock, Arkansas, was the front seat passenger.
Both Jenkins and Gude were arrested and charged with human smuggling.
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All six undocumented immigrants were turned over to U.S. Border Patrol agents.
Olivarez said he has found people will come from out of state to drive undocumented immigrants relatively short distances for a few thousand dollars.