Fatal Texas Crash Unmasks 17-Year-Old Honduran Human Smuggler

Authorities have identified the suspected human smuggler responsible for a fatal car accident that claimed seven lives, including two Americans. The boy, a 17-year-old Honduran, was killed along with six others.

Texas Department of Public Safety reported that the accident occurred on Wednesday when the smuggler who was fleeing the Zavala County Sheriff’s Office, in Batesville Texas, tried to pass an eighteen-wheeler while in a no-passing zone.

According to reports, he went into the oncoming traffic of two Americans driving an SUV from Georgia. The collision claimed the lives of two Americans, Jose Lerma & Isabel Lerma from Georgia who were driving toward Mexico. The collision also killed the child and illegal immigrants who were in the vehicle.

Authorities have informed his family that the smuggler is from Honduras and has a Honduran national passport. His immigration status remains unclear, but he lived in Houston. Homeland Security Investigations at Immigration and Customs Enforcement is investigating with the Honduran Consulate.

The incident occurred amid a crisis on the southern border that saw over 2.4 million encounters with migrants in FY 2023. This was a record. The monthly record of encounters was also broken in September, with more than 269,000.

This crisis has been accompanied by a number of fatal incidents at the border as well as car pursuits between the authorities and those who are trying to smuggle in illegal immigrants.

Authorities chased a Houston motorist who was smuggling unauthorized migrants in June. The driver reached speeds of over 100 mph, before hitting a fence.

Customs and Border Protection, which wasn’t involved in the chase on Wednesday has updated its policies regarding chases for this year. It outlines factors to be considered by agents when deciding whether or not a vehicle should be chased and when it should end.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers last week that in fiscal year 2023, there were over 600,000 “gotaways” — illegal migrants who avoided arrest but were detected through other means.