EDINGBURG, TEXAS—The commercial driver's licenses of three people convicted of smuggling narcotics or humans were revoked in October due to a collaborative effort between the U.S. Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley Sector and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The "Texas Hold 'Em" initiative aims to reduce the trafficking of contraband in commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers, buses and freight carriers by using existing state laws to revoke the commercial driver's license of a person convicted of a smuggling-related offense. According to the Texas Transportation code, a person who holds a CDL is disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life if convicted of using any motor vehicle during the commission of a felony.
When the driver of a commercial vehicle is arrested on smuggling charges, the Border Patrol's Combined Enforcement Unit tracks the case until the driver is convicted or found not guilty. If convicted, the driver's information is submitted to DPS for cancellation of the individual's CDL. Additionally, the Combined Enforcement Unit reaches out to commercial drivers and transportation companies to educate them on the consequences of smuggling.
In addition to losing their CDLs, the three commercial drivers convicted in October also received prison sentences, two for smuggling marijuana and one for human trafficking. One of the marijuana smugglers was caught with more than 740 pounds and was sentenced to 108 months. The other one was caught with nearly 2,500 pounds and received 48 months. The driver convicted of human smuggling was caught with 15 undocumented immigrants, a crime that earned him 64 months in prison.
For fiscal year 2013, which began Oct. 1, 2012 and ended Sept. 30, 2013, nearly 70 cases were submitted for the cancellation of CDLs.
The Rio Grande Valley Sector is part of the South Texas Campaign, which leverages federal, state and local resources to combat transnational criminal organizations. To report suspicious activity, call the sector's toll-free telephone number at (800) 863-9382.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.