KINNEY COUNTY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – In Kinney County, Texas near Del Rio, law enforcement and residents say they are overwhelmed with migrant foot traffic and smugglers who often lead sheriff’s deputies on high-speed chases.
Donna Schuster has lived and ranched on family land in rural Kinney County for more than a decade.READ MORE: 3 Dead After Crash Involving Two Speeding Vehicles In Dallas, Police Say
She says a daily flow of migrants are cutting through her property and destroying it and said they’re stealing from her as well.
“We never had to lock our house before we didn’t have to lock our vehicles,” said Schuster.
She said she’s always armed now.
“I have a 9 mm sig, and I carry it every where I go now,” she said. “My biggest fear is that I am going to have to pull my pistol out on someone and if they are trying to attack me I’m going to have to shoot ’em.”
The violent nature of encounters with migrants is something Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe can attest to.
His office with six full-time deputies is responsible for protecting some 1,500 square miles, 16 of which are right on the border.
He said on a good day, he’s got three deputies and himself working.READ MORE: Texas Experiencing Another COVID-19 Surge
“We’re working on this as hard as we can,” Sheriff Coe said. “They work 12-hour shifts. It’s not uncommon for them to work 16-17 hours and turn around and come back the next day.”
Border officials in the area report apprehensions are up by nearly 390%.
Of even greater danger, Sheriff Coe said are high-speed chases of human smugglers who are recruited from places like North Texas and they’re paid up to $1,000 per person to come down and pick up migrants.
“We’re seeing more smuggling in vehicles. The pursuits are off the charts,” Sheriff Coe said.
They had about 70 last year and more than 25 so far this year.
The Sheriff said in previous years, they’d only have around two.
Ken Molestina: “So right now your cells are at capacity…how many of these are related to smuggling cases?”MORE NEWS: Administrative Court Judge Orders Mask-Wearing To Enter Dallas County Courthouses
Sheriff Coe: “Of the ones here, I’ve got 10. “I’ve got a total of 17 prisoners between here and Valverde County. Of the 17, 10 are related to smuggling.”