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Hebbronville A Crossroads For Illegal Smuggling With AM-Aliens Found, Bjt

July 9, 1987

HEBBRONVILLE, Texas (AP) _ Both illegal aliens and their smugglers regard this little ranch community as a last official barrier between Mexico and the big cities in north Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents say.

The area is well-known for its high-speed chases, injuries and death, so Wednesday’s discovery of 19 aliens locked in a flatbed trailer on a train was not especially shocking.

″Hebbronville is becoming notorious for incidents - car accidents, people getting hurt and killed,″ D.L. Smith, a Border Patrol supervisor, said Thursday.

Two aliens in the group discovered Wednesday - all of whom survived - said they hid in the trailer to avoid detection and then found themselves trapped. They were woozy from the intense heat and the officers saved their lives by discovering them, the aliens said.

It was almost a repeat of a tragedy last week in which 18 men died in a locked train car near El Paso. Smith said officers have made similar discoveries in the past and expect to again.

″The type of smugglers we get around here just won’t give up,″ he said. ″They run, smash fences with their cars and try to ram our vehicles. They have absolutely no regard for the people they are trying to smuggle through.″

Hebbronville is a small town surrounded by mesquite in the middle of the dry, hot South Texas ranch country. It’s a lonely range that illegals must cross between Laredo and Corpus Christi.

A major state highway passes through the town of 4,000 about 70 miles from Mexico, as does a railroad. Both are used by the aliens.

Illegal aliens ″figure if they get past Hebbronville, they’ve got it made,″ said Deputy Samuel Torres.

Smith said officers get involved in high-speed chases with smugglers trying to sneak in truckloads of aliens. Once the chase begins, he said, the smugglers have no hesitation in sacrificing their passengers to escape.

One smuggler, he said, stuffed aliens into a car trunk and then tried to out-race the officers. When the patrol car approached, the smuggler slammed on his brakes and was rammed from behind.

The resulting accident seriously injured passengers in the trunk. The driver jumped out and fled.

Another smuggler, said Smith, got away by slowing his car and jumping out, leaving the vehicle to roll down the highway and crash. Officers were forced to follow the car and let the smuggler escape.

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