Texas Border Town Cops Find Migrants Stuffed in Suitcases

by RANDY CLARK 22 Mar 2023

EAGLE PASS, Texas – Local police arrested a human smuggler after discovering two migrants crammed into luggage in the suspect’s vehicle. The 23-year-old suspected smuggler from San Antonio was accompanied by her five-month-old infant. The bust occurred on Saturday afternoon near the Rio Grande.

Police initially noticed a suspicious vehicle at Jando Guedea Park in the afternoon hours. Officers stopped the vehicle after the driver committed a motor vehicle infraction. Police interviewed the driver identified as Brianna Nicole Starkes. Police say she appeared nervous and gave inconsistent answers. Police were reportedly then given permission to search the beige Kia Soul.

Officers noticed suitcases in the vehicle. One was located next to the five-month-old infant secured in a car seat. A second suitcase sat in the rear cargo compartment. According to Eagle Pass Police Chief Federico Garza, the officer conducting the search noticed movement within the suitcase.

After opening the luggage, officers reportedly freed two concealed migrants. They were turned over to Border Patrol at the scene. Starkes now face charges of Smuggling of Persons. The minimum state statute is a third-degree felony with fines up to $10,000 and a prison term between two and 10 years.

Starkes’ five-month-old was turned over to a grandmother in San Antonio. Starkes was booked into the Maverick County Jail.

Eagle Pass has seen a noticeable increase in criminal activities related to migrant smuggling in recent months. Law enforcement have engaged in vehicle pursuits with smugglers ending in gunfire. In February, one suspected smuggler was shot by a Border Patrol agent after allegedly attempting to strike the officer with her vehicle.

The incident was the second involving a Border Patrol agent in February. In nearby Zavala County, officers are also seeing a surge in migrant smuggling activity. Sheriff’s deputies encounter vehicle pursuits daily which result in injuries to locals, smugglers, and migrants.