In El Paso Human Smuggling Bust, Troopers Seize Weapons, Body Armor Tied To Cartels

In El Paso Human Smuggling Bust, Troopers Seize Weapons, Body Armor Tied To Cartels

By Bethany Blankley (The Center Square)

In a recent El Paso human smuggling bust, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers working through Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission Operation Lone Star seized weapons, body armor, and ammunition after arresting alleged human smugglers connected to Mexican cartels.

DPS Criminal Investigations Division (CID) special agents working through OLS last month identified a human smuggling ring tied to the Nuevo Cartel De Juarez and La Linea Cartel. The cartels operate out of El Paso County and in Sunland Park, New Mexico, DPS says.

The FBI has warned that the Texas border city is a major human smuggling and kidnapping destination. El Paso, located across the Rio Grande River from Ciudad Juárez, is just miles from where rival gangs and cartels are fighting for control of a multi-billion-dollar human and drug smuggling enterprise.

One year ago, DPS officers rescued an 18-month-old baby who’d been kidnapped and held for ransom in El Paso.

Last month, DPS special agents and Highway Patrol troopers worked with the U.S. Border Patrol agents to identify cartel members involved in an El Paso human smuggling ring. They apprehended one alleged cartel member after a traffic stop, where they discovered a short barrel firearm in his possession. He was believed to be providing security for the human smuggling operation.

They also identified alleged cartel members by the images they posted of themselves on social media heavily armed, wearing cartel attire, and paying tribute to the La Linea Cartel. DPS special agents then executed a search warrant in El Paso and seized a cache of weapons and ammunition.

Related: Texas Sheriff: Mexican Cartels Preparing For Massive Human Smuggling Operation

In New Mexico, State Police, Homeland Security Investigations and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents also executed search warrants leading to the seizure of 10 firearms, body armor and thousands of rounds of ammunition. They also arrested two Mexican nationals: Lorena Anyla Enrique Acosta, 28, and Edmundo Rodriguez Padilla, 24.

Acosta had no legal documentation to be in the U.S. and was a previously employed as a Mexican state police officer, DPS said.

Authorities also arrested two New Mexicans as part of the operation: Adam Isaiah Ramirez, 27, and Gustavo Alexis Enriquez Acosta, 23.

All four men were charged with numerous state and federal charges, including possession of a prohibited weapon, human smuggling, alien in possession of a firearm, and conspiracy to transport and harbor. A multi-agency investigation is ongoing.

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