ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Some Big Country police departments say they are seeing an influx of undocumented immigrants on Interstate 20, and some are being left at nearby truck stops unattended.
The Tye Police Department says they’ve gained more knowledge of the immigration crisis over the past few years.
“For folks who don’t know, these are carpet shoes,” said Chief of Tye police, Jay Strong. “They don’t leave human footprints, they just leave the print of this.”
Strong says he has learned key indicators in spotting human smugglers.
“Due to the pattern, and they wear full body suits like this, we can tell you who did it, what organization did it and where they originated from,” said Strong.
Strong says many smugglers come through Interstate 20, and they even pull over at the truck stops in Tye.
“They tell them to stretch their legs, they will turn around and leave to go pick up another set of people,” said Strong.
This leaves the others stranded.
“So, what happens is, the people are left with nothing, they are here with no contact, no people, the jobs they were promised aren’t there and the next thing you know, we have these people wandering around, and that happens a lot,” said Strong.
Through Wednesday, Strong says they have apprehended 150-200 undocumented immigrants, which is normally the amount they catch in a year.
“There has been an influx in the number of people coming illegally down our highways,” said Strong.
“So normally we sit right here, catch vehicles coming over the bridge,” said Assistant Tye Police Chief Eric Becerra.
Becerra says most of the time they stop vehicles for their speed or paper license plates.
“And we’ll catch speed coming over, it’s kind of like a surprise move,” said Becerra.
But sometimes they find more than just a driver with a lead foot.
“The common indicator is paper tags,” said Becerra.
Or other times a vehicle with more humans than seats may tip officers off.
“They are driving down the road and they see heads pop up in a van,” said Strong.
Tye PD is not the only department in the Big Country that says they have experienced a vehicle packed with people.
Cisco Police Chief Kenneth Preston says it adds stress to local law enforcement.
“We don’t know what type of weapons they have, if any,” said Preston.
Strong says if it means he can save people from human trafficking, then for him it’s worth it to protect the immigrants from those situations.
Strong says once they apprehend the undocumented immigrants they turn them over to border patrol, and the people who are smuggling the immigrants are prosecuted.