By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Thursday, November 07, 2013
With state law allowing police to seize cash and vehicles before a suspect is even charged, Texas has rarely been accused of being overly cautious in its enforcement and prosecution of criminal activity.
Commercial drivers convicted of smuggling offenses appear to be no exception.
Three Texas-based drivers lost their commercial licenses to drive in October after a joint effort between the U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector and the Texas Department of Safety linked the drivers to smuggling convictions, according to a news release.
“Texas Hold ’Em” is an initiative that aims to reduce the trafficking of contraband in commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers, buses and freight carriers. The program uses existing state laws to revoke the CDLs of individuals convicted of smuggling.
The campaign, which is based in south Texas, leverages federal, state and local resources to combat transnational criminal organizations. Once drivers are convicted of smuggling-related offenses, their records are submitted to the state DPS for cancellation of their CDLs. The campaign also spends time educating drivers and transportation companies on the dangers and consequences of smuggling.
According to the news release, the three commercial drivers received prison sentences, including two drivers sentenced for marijuana trafficking and the other individual convicted for human trafficking. The first marijuana smuggler was caught with more than 740 pounds of pot and sentenced to nine years in jail. The second one was caught with nearly 2,500 pounds and received a four-year sentence. Police caught the driver convicted of human smuggling with 15 undocumented immigrants, and he was sentenced to 64 months behind bars.
During the 2013 fiscal year, from October 2012 through September 2013, Texas Hold ‘Em saw nearly 70 cases submitted for the cancellation of CDLs, the release states.
The Texas Transportation code says anyone who holds a CDL is disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life if they’re convicted of using a motor vehicle during the commission of a felony.
To report suspicious activity, police urged the public to call the Rio Grande Valley Sector’s toll-free at 800-863-9382.
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