National Security

Alleged Human Smuggler Kills Two US Citizens In Vehicle Collision Near Border

Photo courtesy of Texas Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Chris Olivarez

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Jennie Taer Investigative Reporter
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A driver allegedly smuggling illegal immigrants crashed Wednesday into an SUV in south Texas, killing a driver and passenger from Georgia, Texas Department of Safety (DPS) Lieutenant Chris Olivarez said Wednesday.

The crash occurred near Batesville, Texas, as the alleged smuggler from Houston was driving past an 18-wheeler in a no-passing zone while evading law enforcement, Olivarez said. The head on collision resulted in the SUV bursting into flames. (RELATED: Illegal Immigrant Who Bit Federal Border Officer Sentenced To Prison)

Five of the passengers and the alleged smuggler in the vehicle that crashed into the SUV died from the collision, Olivarez said. Individuals from Honduras were among the deceased. “Identities will be released once the next of kin is notified. This is still an ongoing investigation,” Olivarez said in a statement on Twitter.

“The driver of the white Honda has been identified as Luiz Alfredo Mencias-Escobar, 17 years of age, from Honduras, who resides in Houston, Texas. As part of an ongoing investigation, DPS and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are working jointly with the Honduran Consulate,” Olivarez told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Such incidents are not uncommon near the southern border. A smuggler struck Maria and Emilia Tambunga, a grandmother and her granddaughter, while driving in south Texas in March while he was being pursued by law enforcement in a car chase. “We live in fear that this tragedy is gonna happen to another family,” Elisa Tambunga, Emilia’s mother, told the DCNF in April.

Olivarez told the DCNF that “Jose Lerma, 67, and Isabel Lerma, 65, of Dalton, Georgia, WhitField County, occupants of the Chevy SUV,” have been positively identified and their family has been notified.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently testified to Congress that there were more than 600,000 migrants known to have snuck into the country without apprehension after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in fiscal year 2023.

“The phenomenon of got aways is something that has been a challenge for the Department of Homeland Security for decades,” Mayorkas told Republican Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall during the hearing.

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