A licensed attorney was arrested in Texas after police found four people hidden in the back of his car.
According to KHOU-TV, Timothy Dan Japhet said he was cited on four cases of human smuggling after he was arrested on Aug. 13 in Del Rio, Texas. Officers found four migrants in a rental car Japhet was driving.
He spent six days in jail before posting a $40,000 on Friday, at which point he was released.
Japhet had not been indicted or formally charged as of Sunday, and he told KHOU he believed the case would eventually be dropped.
The suspect said he was driving to an Eagle Pass casino with his dog in the car, and he stopped to let the dog use the bathroom outside. While Japhet was stopped, he said a man asked if he would give him and his friend a ride.
Japhet said he agreed before two additional men appeared with the first two. He felt like he had to give them a ride because he had already agreed to do so, albeit unknowingly.
“I thought, this is not looking good for me right now,” Japhet said. “I made a bad decision.”
While the men were in his car, he said he intentionally drove fast in an attempt to draw the attention of law enforcement.
“There were cops every turn,” Japhet told KHOU. “There was DPS, Homeland Security, Border Patrol, city, county…”
Do you think this man is guilty of human smuggling?
Yes: 60% (3 Votes)
No: 40% (2 Votes)
Japhet said he was initially stopped by deputies working with the Department of Public Safety, and Border Patrol agents arrived soon after. He said he allowed the agents to extensively search through his phone.
After mistakenly believing the agents were about to let him go, Japhet was surprised to see a tow truck arrive and take his car. He told KHOU he had not seen his dog or his car since the arrest.
“I’m missing my dog terribly,” Japhet said. “I’ll go back to Del Rio, I’ll get a car and go back [Monday] and get my dog. And find out how much it’s going to cost me.”
Constable Jimmy Fullen of Galveston, Texas, shared a Facebook post on Saturday congratulating his deputies for stopping Japhet.
“A licensed Texas attorney and Federally appointed immigration magistrate was recently arrested in Kinney County, Texas for Smuggling of a human and resisting arrest,” Fullen wrote. “Great job Deputy Gonzalez and Troopers who were on scene assisting.”
According to the State Bar of Texas website, Japhet is a licensed attorney practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. However, Japhet denied being an immigration magistrate and said he never resisted arrest, KHOU reported.
The deputies from Galveston, Texas, were in Del Rio as part of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star. Abbott created the task force with the goal of combating illegal immigration on Texas’ southern border.
Japhet told KHOU he only practiced immigration law for property-based cases in which someone owns property in Mexico.
Given the clear discrepancies between these stories, an investigation into the incident is clearly necessary. Human smuggling is an extremely dangerous issue in the United States today, so these accusations need to be treated as such.
If the investigation finds Japhet’s story is true, he should be able to walk free and receive repayment for any financial damages he incurred. If he is found guilty, he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
While it is inappropriate to determine whether Japhet is guilty without an investigation and potentially a trial, all Americans should be able to agree about the importance of uncovering the truth in this case.