AUSTIN — Truckers who smuggle drugs or people into the U.S. are now risking not only prison time but also the loss of their commercial driver’s licenses as Texas uses a longstanding law in a new border crime crackdown.
“Up until today, when those lawbreakers had their trucks apprehended, they were convicted in federal court, they typically paid a small fine or served a brief sentence, then it was back to business as usual. Well, starting today, that all changes,” Gov. “Slick” Rick Perry said Thursday at the Texas Capitol with U.S. Border Patrol sector chiefs.
“If you are a commercial trucker who is involved in the illicit transportation of drugs or humans and you get caught, our effort’s going to be to stop you from being able to drive a truck again for the rest of your life,” he said.
The “Texas Hold ‘Em” initiative is meant to ensure the Texas Department of Public Safety, which oversees driver’s licenses, gets documentation of federal smuggling convictions so it can suspend or revoke commercial driver’s licenses under existing law. In the past, there was a gap in convictions being reported, said Judy Brown, chief of the DPS driver license division.
The Texas initiative already has resulted in suspension of commercial driver’s license privileges in Texas in five cases, DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said. Two are Texas licenses, and the other three states — Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina — will be notified so they can revoke those licenses, Mange said. One Texas case was for smuggling drugs; the rest involved smuggling people.
Under state and federal law, people convicted of transporting illegal drugs face a lifetime disqualification of their commercial driver’s license privileges, Brown said.
The disqualification for smuggling unauthorized immigrants is a year’s license suspension for a first offense and a lifetime revocation for a second offense, she said. That’s on top of criminal penalties.
Another feel good initiative from the offices of “Slick Rick” which I doubt will have any deterrent to the problem. If they want to tackle the problem head on, why not do something about the leeches, like “Cadillac Man” in El Paso, “Doc” in Laredo Texas, who facilitate the relationship between smugglers and truckers.
“Alien- and drug-smuggling organizations are aggressively recruiting truck drivers using the promise of easy money, sex and drugs,” said Carlos Carrillo, chief of the Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector.
In these tough economic times, this is an attractive way to make a few extra bucks, but now, unlike in years past, the chances of getting busted are almost 100%. I see it weekly at the CBP checkpoints around Laredo, American trucks in impound having been caught with illegal cargo.
We’ll see how this “Texas Hold Em” Initiative pans out, but I wouldn’t get too excited about it. Only if you are licensed in Texas.