Homeland Security raids 6 homes in Nacogdoches Co. in connection to human smuggling

Published: Sep. 9, 2014 at 3:22 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2014 at 10:26 PM CDT
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4105 Old Lufkin Road. (Source: KTRE)
4105 Old Lufkin Road. (Source: KTRE)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Federal authorities with the Department of Homeland Security have executed search warrants at six different locations in Nacogdoches following a raid connected to human smuggling Tuesday morning.

Greg Palmore with Homeland Security said four arrests have been made. He said they have located several individuals and they are trying to determine if they were smuggled across the border.

"Several were in the country illegally, and two were principal associates of an on-going investigation," Palmore said. "In our activities, if we would have encountered some stash houses locally, we would have taken those individuals into custody as well. However, our primary focus was to execute the federal search warrants."

Palmore said the raid began at 7 a.m., and three of the locations were on County Road 521, County Road 250 and Old Lufkin Road.

Palmore said the raids were part of Operation Coyote, which is an attempt to crack down on human smuggling.

"Since its inception in the middle of June, Operation Coyote has resulted in the arrest of more than 360 individuals and their associates for human smuggling activity," Palmore said. "Our activities will not cease. We are targeting human smuggling organizations throughout Texas. Individuals have to remember if they are being smuggled by an organization, you're not treated like a human being; you're treated as a commodity. Individuals don't care about your well being, and they will smuggle you into the country. You could be smuggled with known drugs, known weapons, could be a number of different things. However, individuals need to be wary of individuals who are smuggling individuals to the area."

Palmore said they also seized AK-47s, M-4s, pistols, and thousands of dollars in cash.

Deborah Moore lives across the street from one of the homes the feds raided Tuesday, and she said she saw some bizarre activity.

"I've watched traffic going in and out," Moore said. "It's just so much traffic every day. Lately, in the last four or five months, it's gotten worse."

Moore said she was shocked to learn that her neighbors were being investigated for human smuggling.

"It's really scary to know that it's across our street, in our neighborhood. It's bad," Moore said. "I'm grateful for what they've done. Now I feel safe, but I'm kind of scared at the same time."

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