DPS pilot stops plane from smuggling 13 people

The Texas Department of Public Safety stopped a human smuggling attempt at the South Texas International Airport in Edinburg on Aug. 31, 2022. (Courtesy photo)

A Texas Department of Public Safety pilot stopped a plane that was ready to smuggle more than a dozen people in Edinburg on Wednesday, but not before being struck by a fleeing suspect’s vehicle.

The pilot thwarted the smuggling attempt before anyone could board the aircraft at South Texas International Airport in Edinburg just after 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to a news release from DPS.

The pilot, who was working as part of the state’s Operation Lone Star, became suspicious after he noticed about 15 people were dropped off at the main gate.

The pilot also noticed suspicious activity inside the airport so he performed a ramp check on the GulfStream IV plane.

State troopers say a human smuggling attempt took place at the South Texas International Airport in Edinburg on Aug. 31, 2022. (Courtesy Photo)

When the pilot asked Maximo Diaz Jorge, a 40-year-old Dominican, about the plane he chartered, Diaz Jorge said he was taking his employees from an oil company to see a baseball game in Houston. But when the pilot asked for identification, the group fled.

A woman in an SUV, who was later identified as 29-year-old Andreina Felix of the Dominican Republic, struck the DPS pilot with the vehicle as she tried to flee. The pilot only sustained minor injuries and was still able to help troopers and special agents stop Diaz Jorge and Felix from fleeing.

Felix was arrested and charged with smuggling of persons and aggravated assault of a public servant. She was transported to the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center. Diaz Jorge was taken to a hospital after he experienced a medical emergency, DPS officials said in the release, but did not elaborate on the nature of the emergency.

U.S. Border Patrol agents took custody of the eight men and five women who were from the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.

DPS troopers and Texas Rangers continue to investigate the incident.