Online Exclusive

Illegal Border Traffic Overwhelms Texas Deputies


Between bailouts during pursuits and searching the rugged brush country for dead or dying illegal immigrants, Brooks County Sheriff Rey Rodriguez said his department is "having a rough time."

Rodriguez said it's not just his small department, but also state and federal law enforcement agencies in Brooks County -- a deep South Texas county of about 7,000 people.

Rodriguez said the incidents are so numerous they average at least one per day.

Rodriguez said smugglers coming up from the border often travel the back roads to bypass the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints, located on U.S. Highway 281, south of Falfurrias.

"Once they get around to where we are, we get the problem," Rodriguez said.

Yet because Brooks is not considered a border county, the sheriff said state and federal funding is harder to come by for his overworked and understaffed department.

He said a near-fatal collision on Oct. 24 was triggered after smugglers encountered a Falfurrias police officer heading into town.

Rodriguez said smugglers hauling marijuana in the back of a pick-up truck crashed into an SUV nearly killing an elderly couple.

Rodriguez said the couple's vehicle was yanked to safety by a passing motorist with a chain after the truck exploded into flames.

Rodriguez said the smugglers escaped, leaving half a dozen illegal immigrants to be rescued and their cargo up in the smoke.

The wreck occurred across from a ranch managed by Lavoyger Durham.

"It's obvious that the drug smuggling is tied together with the human smuggling," Durham said. "They're all tied together because the drug cartels that are making this happen."

For that reason, Daniel Davila, Brooks County's lone investigator, said the small department is not backing down.

"They can stay out of our county. Can that happen? People say, 'You're dreaming,'" Davila said. "We're going to do what we have to do, whether he have the resources or we don't, we're not going to stop."

Copyright 2011 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.