SAPD, not Feds, to handle city's latest human smuggling case

DA's office and advocacy groups involved

By Deven Clarke - News Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio Police Chief William McManus says the case of at least 12 illegal immigrants smuggled to San Antonio from Laredo in the back of a trailer will be handled at the state level.

For the second time in less than six months, illegal immigrants were found in the Alamo City after being smuggled in a trailer.

But unlike the incident in July where 10 immigrants were found dead in a trailer of an 18-wheeler in a Wal-Mart parking lot, this Dec. 23 incident will not be turned over to the feds.

RELATED: SAPD: Dozen immigrants rescued from semi trailer on East Side

"The decision to handle this at the state level was a situational decision that was based on what was happening at the scene," McManus said. 

McManus said when he got to 3500 block of Copeland Drive two days before Christmas, after police were notified about the parked truck containing people, he saw 12 of them sitting on the curb. 

The immigrants were from Guatemala, Mexico and other countries.

"Fortunately, no one was injured, everyone was in good shape, well-clothed well-fed, well-hydrated," McManus said.

On Thursday, McManus met with the director of Homeland Security investigations to lay out the framework on how the investigation would be handled.

However, there are limitations.

"Once the folks (immigrants) got here to police headquarters, we have no jurisdiction to hold them, to detain them, so they were released to Catholic Charities," McManus said. 

McManus said he doesn't know where the immigrants, ranging from 16 to 41 years old, are now.

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood, is being brought in to help with the investigation.

"We'll review the case that's turned over to us. I know that the suspects are still in custody; we'll look at everything, we'll make attempts to contact the witnesses in this case and then we'll work up a case like we do any other case," LaHood said.

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