Texas Officials Sound the Alarm as Human Smugglers Take to the Sky with New Tactic: 'Who Is Involved with This?


In the past 33 days, the Texas Department of Public Safety has stopped three airplanes in the Rio Grande Valley area that were involved in human smuggling efforts.

“[Y]ou have to understand the different [sic] between the people who are being smuggled on planes — those are people who have not been processed,” Texas Highway Patrol Staff Lt. Christopher Olivarez told Fox News. “Those are people who are trying to avoid detection.”

Border enforcement personnel refer to those individuals who have managed to avoid them completely — as opposed to being apprehended, processed and released — as “gotaways.”

Fox said officials had told them that there had been about 55,000 such gotaways every month in the past fiscal year, which ended Friday.

Of course, most of those didn’t arrive in the U.S. by plane.

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“It’s started to become more common. But … these are small, private airports. They’re not using the larger airports where there’s TSA,” Olivarez told Fox.

“These are the smaller airports where you don’t have the security measures in place for private planes. It’s kind of hard to … do surveillance at every single airport.”

Texas DPS has intercepted nearly 40 illegal immigrants coming into the country by air, Fox reported, including incidents on Aug. 31, Sept. 23 and this past Sunday.

One of the illegal aliens taken into custody in September was a Mexican citizen with an outstanding Wisconsin arrest warrant for sexually assaulting a minor. (A separate report from Fox stated that the September incident occurred on Sept. 23.)

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That man, 38-year-old Ivan Flores-Rivas, was described as a “previously deported felon.”

The incidents all involved chartered planes. Fox said regulations require pilots of those aircraft to check the identities of their passengers, but not their citizenship status.

“A lot of times, they don’t even know what’s going on,” Olivarez told Fox of the pilots. “They’re just told, ‘Okay, I’m going to charter this plane. We’re going to pick up this many passengers from this airport, and we’re going to take them to this airport.’ That’s it.”

Chartering flights would, presumably, be expensive. One illegal immigrant detained in the Aug. 31 incident told authorities that being smuggled into the U.S. cost her $7,000, and crossing the border by plane added another $4,000 premium to that, according to Fox News.

“My question would be: Who can afford a private [plane]? Even just a propeller,” asked Retired Customs and Border Protection agent Frank Lopez Jr., who is running for Congress in Texas. “I’ve seen the pictures of the aircraft that are being used. So, who can afford that?”

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Lopez said there were questions that needed to be asked about anyone willing to pay that kind of price to be smuggled into the U.S.

“Who is involved with this?” he asked. “And the people that are being smuggled — are these your run-of-the-mill illegal aliens? Or is there something special about them?

“Is there something that that makes them a higher value package, per se?”

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics