(NewsNation) — Kinney County, Texas, has been a hotbed for human and drug smuggling, and now, the judge is bringing the hammer down on repeat offenders.
Judge John Paul Schuster is upping the ante to $100,000 bond for every undocumented individual repeat smugglers are caught transporting. One woman from Houston, Maria Ines Chavez, who was nabbed for human smuggling, is now sitting in jail on an over $1 million bond.
Chavez was arrested last week during a traffic stop, where authorities found 11 undocumented individuals from Mexico in her vehicle.
Chavez was reportedly arrested 18 days earlier by troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety, but because of a lack of available jail space, she was released on a personal recognizance bond and is waiting for a court hearing.
Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe says they were able to find bed space for Chavez in neighboring Kerrville, in Kerr County, while she is being held.
When it’s people’s second time being caught human smuggling, like it was for Chavez, Schuster said he tells them he’s a good guy, “And we mean well, and we’ll say a prayer for you, but I better never see you in my county again.”
“Sometimes they even give me a hug, thank you,” Schuster said. Others give him a “cold glare,” the judge added.
This all comes as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is pushing for tougher consequences for human smugglers. One of those efforts is to create a mandatory sentence of 10 years in jail for anyone caught smuggling people in Texas.
The governor prioritized the legislation, adding it to a special session that he called last week. However, no deal has been made between the chambers when it comes to border security yet.