Take 5

San Marcos Police Department Arrests Three in Human Smuggling and Kidnapping Case

SAN MARCOS, TEXAS, SEPTEMBER 12, 2023 – The San Marcos Police Department (SMPD) has announced the arrest of three individuals implicated in a four-week-long investigation into human smuggling and kidnapping in the city of San Marcos.

Detective Casey Tennant highlighted that extensive groundwork led to establishing sufficient probable cause to issue arrest and multiple search warrants for the suspects. They are accused of detaining at least ten undocumented immigrants, demanding several thousand dollars in cash for their release.

While the victims could not pinpoint the exact location where they were held, they provided enough information to aid detectives in narrowing down a probable area. Through meticulous review of business surveillance footage in San Marcos and analyzing travel times to the hideout, the authorities identified the holding place.

Utilizing a combination of victim testimonies, digital forensics from a cell phone, and surveillance materials, the investigators identified the suspects, later discovered to be Castillo and Villarreal, both with a criminal history involving smuggling of individuals.

On Thursday, September 7, in the early hours, SMPD officers, along with support from various law enforcement agencies including Hays, Bastrop County and New Braunfels SWAT teams, Texas State University Police, and Department of Public Safety SWAT, executed search warrants at residences on Academy Street, Hillyer Street, and Lazy Lane. The operation’s proximity to the Texas State University campus necessitated assistance from the university police.

Tennant underlined the necessity for multiple SWAT teams given the serious threat to the potential victims’ safety and the different locations targeted in the search. Although no victims were found during the apprehension operation, evidence substantiating the grave charges faced by the defendants was uncovered.

SMPD assures residents that the neighborhood is secure but encourages the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities. For non-emergencies, the public can reach SMPD at 512-753-2108, while life-threatening situations should be reported via 9-1-1.

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