BRACKETTVILLE, Texas—Law enforcement authorities are releasing human smugglers with a citation rather than arresting them as counties struggle with a critical shortage in jail space.
Small counties aren’t set up for the overwhelming increase in cross-border crime, and smugglers who are here illegally are often passed to Border Patrol to be repatriated without being charged.
The jail in Kinney County, Texas, holds a maximum of 14 people, but the sheriff tries to hold two spaces open for “something violent, or something out of the ordinary.”
Sheriff Brad Coe said he has 12 inmates in his jail right now, as well as another six being housed in the neighboring Val Verde County jail. Ten of the 18 are in jail for the smuggling of illegal aliens.
Coe said jail space is the biggest problem in small counties dealing with the border crisis.
A Kinney County deputy pulled over a woman on May 24 who had a warrant out for her arrest and was driving without a license. The deputy was forced to let her go because the jail doesn’t accommodate females.
Coe said the result is that “the scouts are females [and] the drivers are starting to be female.”
On June 25, law enforcement gave Border Patrol custody of a driver who was allegedly smuggling nine illegal immigrants, because the Kinney County jail was full. The driver, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, also had an active arrest warrant out for driving while intoxicated in San Antonio.
Border Patrol agents on the scene confirmed that they would most likely return the man back across the border without charging him with smuggling.
Frustrated by the lack of federal charges, a Texas State Trooper filed state charges against the driver so there would be an arrest warrant out for him for felony smuggling the next time he’s caught in the United States.