Authorities detain 18 people in country illegally after Franklin County traffic stop

Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 4:00 PM CDT
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MOUNT VERNON, Texas (KLTV) - Authorities in Franklin County detained 18 people who were in the country illegally after a traffic stop on Interstate 30 Thursday afternoon.

Franklin County Sheriff Ricky Jones explained that a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper made a traffic stop on a Toyota Sequoia at about 2 p.m. Thursday, thinking that it was hauling narcotics because of all the weight in it. When the DPS trooper opened the hatchback, he saw 18 Guatemalans who were in the United States illegally. He immediately called the Department of Homeland Security for assistance.

Current policy is to release them, if they don’t fit the holding criteria.

But the sheriff says ‘release them where?’

“DPS trooper conducted the traffic stop and once he opened the vehicle he noticed that is was filled with 18 Guatamalan immigrants,” says Franklin county sheriff Ricky Jones.

It became more shocking when one of them told Jones they were being trafficked.

“Sex-trafficking for the females that are with them, or delivering drugs,” the sheriff said.

Jones says a talk with Homeland Security revealed another shock.

“They said they don’t meet the current criteria for deportation, yet they’ve been handled numerous times by border patrol. That’s a crisis the current administration is creating. I’m being told that 15 of them are free to go, to be released into Franklin county, and I’m not good with that,” Ricky said.

“When you have 100-thousand folks crossing the border illegally on a monthly basis, it’s not just going to effect the southern border, it’s going to effect the entire country,” said Texas congressman Pat Fallon.

Jones cares about his community but also the welfare of those accused of being in the country illegally.

Other sheriff’s were there to support Jones.

“We expect to call them and have our federal partners come in and help us. Have a plan. And it looks like to me that the plan is what Franklin county can do for these folks. We’re just supposed to let them go. No matter what time it is. Don’t know them, don’t have any clue who they are,” said Lamar county sheriff Scott Cass.

“Smuggling immigrants has always been a problem we could deal with because the federal government helped us. But they need to tell us what to do with them now. Give us some help, they need to give us some federal funding,” said Hopkins county sheriff Louis Tatum.

Among the people detained, one has been charged with illegal re-entry into the country, two are charged with smuggling.

15 remain at the Franklin county jail until sheriff Jones comes up with options on if and how to release them.

Jones said, under the previous presidential administration, immigration officials would have taken the people into custody and returned them their country of origin. He said it is becoming a crisis for sheriffs across the country.

Jones said they’ve been told by Homeland Security officials that the people do not fit the federal agency’s criteria. Jones said Homeland Security officials have told them the Guatemalans haven’t done anything wrong and should be released into Franklin County. He added that he wasn’t comfortable doing that, especially in light of the fact that one individual has been arrested for robbery in Guatemala and Peru.

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