88th LegislatureImmigration & BorderIssuesSan Antonio Man Sentenced to Three Years After Pleading Guilty to Human Smuggling

Texas state lawmakers have introduced bills to elevate the punishments for crimes such as human smuggling and operating stash houses.
February 27, 2023
A federal judge in Corpus Christi sentenced a human smuggler to more than three years in prison for trying to sneak three people across a border checkpoint in the trunk of his car, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

In a news release, the DOJ said U.S. District Judge David S. Morales on Wednesday sentenced 40-year-old Bryan Tanner of San Antonio to 37 months in federal prison. Tanner pleaded guilty on December 1, 2022.

Federal prosecutors said Tanner approached a border patrol checkpoint on September 8, 2022 in Sarita and seemed “nervous” to officers. Tanner was unable to answer their questions, so the agents requested to check his vehicle, whereupon he unsuccessfully tried to escape the checkpoint.

The trunk of Tanner’s car was said to be 99 degrees Fahrenheit, and two of the three individuals discovered said they had been there for over three hours, the DOJ indicated. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) introduced a bill to increase the penalties for human smuggling, continuous human smuggling, and organized criminal activity including operating a stash house.

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House Bill (HB) 1316 appears to propose making all instances of human smuggling a first-degree felony, which is punishable by up to life in prison. It would also add language to the human smuggling statute to impose criminal penalties on someone who “​​assists, guides, or directs” multiple people to engage in illegal immigration.

In addition to the increased penalties, HB 1316 would remove affirmative defenses for smuggling close family members if the smuggled person became the victim of a violent crime or if the perpetrator “created a substantial likelihood that the smuggled individual would suffer serious bodily injury or death.”

There would also be a minimum sentence of 15 years for continuous human smuggling, which would be increased to 20 years if certain aggravating factors are present, such as if the smuggled person was a child or became the victim of a violent crime.

Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) and Rep. J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville) also introduced bills to increase the punishments for human smuggling activities.

During his State of the State address, Gov. Greg Abbott made border security an emergency item on the legislative agenda. Texas lawmakers are currently in their biannual session, which concludes at the end of May.

A copy of Allison’s bill can be found below.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."