Tragedy in San Antonio Highlights Human Smuggling Crisis

 Posted on July 20,2022 in Criminal Law

San Antonio criminal defense lawyerThe recent case of human smuggling that left 53 migrants dead in a tractor-trailer outside San Antonio underscores the often-tragic results of smuggling along our southern border. To date, federal prosecutors have charged four men in the case, which represents the most migrant deaths in a single smuggling attempt.

Federal and Texas state prosecutors come down hard on human smugglers, even for those who only play a small role in a smuggling operation. Additionally, many innocent people can be caught up in border enforcement. If you have been arrested on human smuggling charges, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Federal and State Prosecutions of Human Smuggling

While border enforcement is largely a federal issue, Texas also has laws against human smuggling given its long border with Mexico and the impact human smuggling has on the state. Whether you are charged by federal or state authorities can depend on which law enforcement personnel were involved in the arrest.

Federal human smuggling laws cover the following activities:

  • Alien Smuggling – Bringing an illegal alien into the country, even one who has official authorization, outside of a designated port of entry.
  • Domestic Transporting – Transporting an illegal alien within the United States.
  • Harboring – Concealing or harboring an alien from law enforcement.
  • Encouraging/Inducing – Knowingly encouraging an alien to enter and stay in the country illegally.
  • Conspiracy/Aiding or Abetting – Conspiring with others to commit any of the above offenses.
  • Bringing Aliens to the United States – This includes helping an alien enter the country at any place, including a designated port of entry.

For each charge, alien smuggling and conspiracy carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, fines, or both. The other activities carry a prison sentence of 5 years unless it was done for financial gain, in which case the maximum sentence is 10 years in prison. Enhanced penalties are possible if the violations resulted in serious bodily injury or the death of any person.

Under the Texas Penal Code, smuggling activities that are illegal include:

  • Using a vehicle to illegally transport a person into the country and hide that person from authorities.
  • Helping two or more people cross private land without the landowner’s consent.
  • Encouraging or forcing an illegal alien to stay in the country and hiding them from law enforcement.

These offenses are charged as third-degree felonies but can be upgraded to second- or first-degree felonies if an individual was injured, sexually assaulted, or killed.

Contact a San Antonio Human Smuggling Defense Lawyer

Do not attempt to face human smuggling charges alone. The experienced San Antonio criminal defense attorney at Law Offices of Sam H. Lock can help defend you against federal and state charges. Call us at 210-226-0965 to set up your initial consultation.



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Bexar County

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San Antonio, Texas 78210