A Texas Department of Public Safety officer working under Governor 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 said, the federal government refuses to address the crisis and border communities continue to feel its effects.
Lt. Chris Olivarez said Sgt. James Morris of Texas DPS, who found the packages, is an “expert” tracker.
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After encountering a series of footprints, he followed the trail for four miles through a desolate section of Big Bend National Park and was led to five packets of marijuana.
Each package weighed approximately 60 pounds and was in compressed bags spray painted to blend in with the terrain.
The bags had straps used by the smugglers to transport the drugs to the area before covering them with rocks.
Olivarez said the Big Bend area is frequented by drug traffickers due to the difficult terrain, adding that it could take them three days to a week after entering the country to get to a highway.
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At this time of year, temperatures in this dangerous and desolate region of Texas average in the mid to high 80s.
In the summer, temperatures are consistently in the 100s and, according to Olivarez, immigrants go into survival mode as they make the journey from Mexico to the United States — some have even died.
Olivarez said officers working for Operation Lone Star sometimes find drugs, like in this case, and other times leads can lead them to undocumented immigrants.
On November 2, a state trooper stopped a speeding vehicle in Brackettville, Texas.
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After an investigation, the soldier discovered that the rear passenger seats were lowered and six undocumented immigrants were lying 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 passenger.
Both Jenkins and Gude were arrested and charged with human trafficking.
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The six undocumented immigrants were handed over to US Border Patrol agents.
Olivarez said he discovered that people would come from out of state to drive undocumented immigrants relatively short distances for a few thousand dollars.