SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Police Department is coming under fire after releasing a dozen people found inside a trailer. SAPD handled the case instead of handing it over to the feds.
On Thursday, SAPD Chief William McManus says that he doesn't regret the decision.
The trafficking incident took place on December 23. Police found an 18-wheeler with 12 people inside. The people admitted that they were from Guatemala and, after being detained, the driver of that truck admitted that he picked the people up from a warehouse in Laredo.
The driver of the truck, Herbert Nichols, was arrested and is being charged with trafficking. While SAPD called homeland security investigators, Chief McManus decided to handle this at the state level and not the federal level.
Chief McManus admitted Thursday that he has no idea where the people inside the truck are. Those people could be potential witnesses in the state's case against Nichols.
"Once the folks got here to police headquarters, we have no jurisdiction to hold them, to detain them, so they were released to Catholic Charities and what Catholic Charities did with them, I don't know," McManus said.
It was handled much differently than a similar incident back in July. Dozens of people were found inside a truck at a Walmart parking lot. Eight died in the sweltering heat. That incident was handled by Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customers Enforcement.
McManus says that as of right now, the decision as to who handles these crimes is made on a case by case basis and he doesn't regret handling the December incident differently.
"Based on the information that I had on the scene and the situation at the scene, the number of police officers we had standing around, the number of people who were lined up on the curb, that was absolutely the right decision at the time," Chief McManus said.
No one in the December incident was injured or hurt. Chief McManus said that he met with Homeland Security investigators on Thursday morning to discuss a protocol if something like this happens in San Antonio again.
Texas Attorney General's office said in a statement:
"Nearly all of S.B. 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.”