Skip to Content

Only on ABC-7: Inside a migrant pursuit in West El Paso

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott began cracking down on migrant crossings, illegal or otherwise, by initiating Operation Lone Star, increasing the number of Department of Public Safety Troopers in the Borderland. Those Troopers operate under a broad-ranging pursuit policy.

Since the start of Operation Lone Star, the Borderland seen a rise of DPS pursuits.

The DPS pursuit policy is broad, with pursuits happening on a daily basis, many times ending in crashes.

Troopers, Border Patrol, and local authorities are keeping an eye on these smugglers from the time migrants are picked up to the moment the pursuit ends, and they're keeping track from up in the air and down on the ground.

 DPS says these pursuits happen mostly at night.

To get a complete picture of these pursuits, producer John McMinn and reporter Saul Saenz combined forces, John on a DPS helicopter and Saul on the ground riding along with a trooper, all of it at night, to witness first hand how it all goes down.

One DPS pursuit at 4 a.m. in September ended with a crash at one of the Sunland Park mall entrances.

Several migrants were injured.

The driver ran away but was later captured.

Meanwhile, DPS troopers flying over the Santa Teresa area captured the moment a smuggler picked up several migrants in a desert area.

The pilot radios the trooper John was riding with, letting him know an SUV just loaded a group of migrants.

The trooper in the air works hand-in-hand with another trooper on the ground.

 The pilot let the ground Trooper know which direction the driver and his cargo are driving in.

 Trooper Garcia stopped on Artcraft, waiting for the smuggler to come to him.

"10-4, we're approaching," the chopper Trooper communicates with the ground Trooper.

"Gonna be lane number two behind the white mini-van. It's gonna be car 6 in line," the trooper in the chopper relays.

"That's it right there," responds the Trooper on the ground. He spots the SUV in question, gets behind him, turns on his lights and sirens and tries to pull him over.

The driver, seems to slow down, but quickly speeds up, and the pursuit begins.

Other troopers speed ahead to try to stop the smuggler as well, but the driver evades them.

Video shows a Trooper deploying stop sticks, which are supposed to puncture the tires, but the sticks fail to deploy.

The pursuit then enters dangerous territory into a highly populated residential area at speeds of up to 70 miles an hour.

The smuggler blows through stop signs while the ground Trooper slows down to make sure no one is crossing at intersections.

A school bus sees the pursuit and slows down.

Finally, the ground Trooper decides its time to end the pursuit.

 He notifies those riding in his unit,

 "Brace yourselves."

He tries a pit maneuver, bumping into the smuggler's car, not once, but twice with the driver speeding up with no regard for other drivers, much less for his cargo.

Finally, the third maneuver attempt brings the pursuit to a dramatic end.

The driver loses control, flipping over three times, coming to a stop, smoke rising from his hood.

 "I thought we were going to die there," says Norma Judith, a migrant from Guatemala, after being pulled from the SUV.

Judith and the rest of the migrants inside the SUV were eventually turned over to Border Patrol agents for processing.

The driver, Angel Omar Arciniega Luna, 35, of Durango, Mexico, was booked on a human smuggling charge.

Article Topic Follows: Xtra

Jump to comments ↓

Saul Saenz


KVIA ABC 7 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content