Border Patrol, Harlingen police stop smuggling attempt at Valley International Airport

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Border Patrol agents and the Harlingen Police Department stopped a smuggling attempt at the Valley International Airport on Thursday, May 25, 2023. (Courtesy photo)

Border Patrol agents along with the Harlingen Police Department stopped a smuggling attempt last Thursday at Valley International Airport.

In a news release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it stopped two pilots from smuggling four people from Guatemala and Honduras via an airplane.

CBP said law enforcement responded after Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol intelligence agents responded to suspicious activity at Gulf Aviation.

Agents and police approached the aircraft and interrupted the human smuggling event.

CBP said everyone was arrested and that the Harlingen Police Department seized the aircraft.

It’s not immediately clear whether the pilots are facing state or federal charges.

Chief Border Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez commended her agents and the police department.

“Great work to all involved,” Chavez said in the release. “This particular case highlights the importance of our law enforcement partnerships, especially intercepting unconventional smuggling methods.”

This isn’t the first time smugglers have tried to use Rio Grande Valley airports to illegally transport people north.

Last year, in just several weeks spanning from the end of August into September, Homeland Security Investigations, the Texas Department of Public Safety and CBP stopped three separate smuggling attempts at airports.

On Sept. 25, 2022, HSI special agents conducting surveillance at the Mid-Valley Airport in Weslaco arrested three people after authorities found six people in the country illegally aboard an aircraft.

Then, on Sept. 23, 2022, DPS agents stopped a smuggling attempt at McCreery Aviation Co. in McAllen. DPS called Border Patrol and agents determined that 19 people were in the country illegally and that the plane was destined for Houston.

Lastly, on Aug. 31, 2022, CBP foiled a smuggling attempt at the South Texas International Airport in Edinburg where officers found 13 people in the country illegally trying to board a private plane.