UPDATE: Police Chief McManus responds to questions concerning human smuggling stop
UPDATE: San Antonio Police Chief William McManus issued a statement Thursday morning concerning the human smuggling stop and responded to questions.
Statement from the Attorney General of Texas' Director of Communications Marc Rylander :
"Nearly all of SB 4 is currently enforceable. The Office of the Attorney General is accepting citizen complaints against government entities that violate SB 4 and will take appropriate action after investigation."
McManus says he decided to pursue a human smuggling incident using state statute
SAN ANTONIO (WOAI/KABB) -- San Antonio Police Chief William McManus says he decided to pursue a human smuggling incident using a state statute.
"In our world, you just can't turn people loose without processing these individuals and releasing them with some sort of authority," said Former Special Agent Jerry Robinette.
According to the police report, a citizen approached an officer and told him he had seen something strange on the 3400 block of Copeland. When the officer got there, he found 12 people in the back of an 18-wheeler. The driver and a companion were also there.
The police officer, as is customary in these smuggling cases, immediately called Homeland Security to assist. But that never happened, because Chief McManus elected to handle the matter, according to Homeland Security.
According to the police report, the officer immediately noticed the driver, Herbert Nichols, pacing near the back of the 18-wheeler.
"I noticed that one of the doors of the trailer was wide open. As I got closer, I noticed that several individuals sitting down inside the trailer on both sides."
After Nichols told the officer that his trailer had broken down and the people were going to help him move the load, the officer asked one of the witnesses where he was coming from. The answer -- Guatemala. The officer asked for backup and "Homeland Security was also contacted and informed about the incident. Chief McManus #1 also arrived at the scene."
The report says: "Herbert Nichols confessed to the detective of picking up all of the witnesses in a warehouse in Laredo, Texas and transported them to the listed location, where they were going to be picked up."
According to Homeland Security investigations, "They offered their assistance at the scene. SAPD decided the state would handle the matter."
The police report then states that, "All witnesses were released from the Police Headquarters."
We asked Former Special Agent-in-Charge for ICE and Homeland Security Jerry Robinette, who now works for Frontier Solutions, a Washington DC law and consulting firm, why Homeland Security is normally called to the scene to vet these undocumented people.
It’s not unusual for these individuals to use multiple names or not have valid identification,” explained Robinette. “Which is why its so important to run the prints. It’s the only way you are going to know if you have run into this individual. You are not going to have an accurate response without it.”
“There is also intelligence,” added Robinette. “Sensitive and high side intelligence that perhaps some police departments have not had access to or may not have the time to run these individuals through themselves or through other agencies who can provide that service. It’s the kind of stuff that ICE or HSI does routinely. But perhaps somebody who does not routinely do this investigation may perhaps overlook or delay in doing.”
Statement from San Antonio Police Department:
Chief McManus is unavailable for an interview. To clarify, Homeland Security was never told that their services were not needed. SAPD handled this investigation utilizing the state smuggling statute. Unfortunately, this is the second incident in the last year. Fortunately, this time citizen interaction and a quick police response prevented another tragedy. As in every case, we are not releasing witness information. This is an ongoing investigation.