A Texas Department of Public Safety pilot reportedly stopped a sophisticated human smuggling attempt at the South Texas International Airport in Edinburg, Texas, last week. Something didn’t seem right.
The pilot had become suspicious when he noticed a group of 15 people dropped off at the main gate.
He had also noticed some suspicious activity inside of the airport and decided to conduct a ramp check on a Gulfstream IV aircraft.
It was at this point that the DPS pilot engaged a Dominican man, Maximo Diaz Jorge, 40, and questioned him about the chartered plane, MyRGV News reported. Diaz replied that he was taking his oil company employees to a baseball game in Houston.
The pilot then asked the group to show their identification — instead, they ran.
.@TxDPS Pilot disrupted a human smuggling attempt by plane at a private airport in Edinburg. 2 human smugglers attempted to smuggle 13 illegal immigrants from the Dominican Republic & El Salvador by chartering a plane to Houston. The smugglers were arrested. #OperationLoneStar pic.twitter.com/GTVeBf8zva
— TxDPS – South Texas Region (@TxDPSSouth) September 1, 2022
Shortly after, the pilot would be struck by an SUV driven by 29-year-old Andreina Felix, also from the Dominican Republic.
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The pilot sustained minor injuries but was still able to help DPS troopers stop and arrest Felix, Diaz and their group.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection soon arrived, according to a CBP news release.
“Upon arrival, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers requested assistance with two vehicle pursuits that was initiated at the airport,” the release states.
Both vehicles eventually came to a stop, where multiple people were observed fleeing into the nearby brush.
“Agents arrested 13 noncitizens from the Dominican Republic and El Salvador. During the pursuit, a DPS vehicle was struck by one of the fleeing vehicles. DPS took custody of both drivers and vehicles.”
KCPQ-TV reported, “According to a DPS official, one of the immigrants claimed to have paid $11,000 in total to be smuggled, which includes $7,000 to be smuggled into the United States, as well as another $4,000 to be smuggled by an airplane.”
MyRGV News reported that Felix was arrested and faces charges of smuggling of persons and aggravated assault of a public servant. She was taken to the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center.
Diaz experienced a medical emergency during the incident and was transported to an area hospital, MyRGV reported.
The remaining suspects were taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.