A few weeks ago, the San Antonio Express-News published an incredibly interesting look into a group of college students who got caught making extra money by smuggling undocumented immigrants over the Mexico/United States border in the fall of 2012.
The main subject of the piece is Jake Woerner, a Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi frat boy who “didn’t fit the mould” of the typical smuggler. As the Express-News reports, Woerner was a microbiology major, captain of the school’s club soccer team, and a Kappa Sigma fraternity brother.
As the Homeland Security Investigations agent on Woerner’s case reportedly said when he first heard about the student smuggler, “It looks like this kid is smuggling aliens to pay his way through college.”
After being lured into the smuggling ring by a friend who promised big paydays, Woerner — along with fellow TAMUCC student and Kappa Sigma fraternity brother Stephen Sluyter — began taking regular trips over the border.
According to the Express-News, “Investigators estimate this Corpus Christi business smuggled more than 1,000 immigrants over a period of months.”
Both Worner and Sluyter were eventually caught by the authorities, the Express-News reports, and agreed to assist in the ongoing investigation against the smuggling group in exchange for a lenient ruling. Although they worried about retaliation from other smugglers, neither went to prison and both graduated at the end of 2012.
“Woerner and Sluyter … gave damning testimony, detailing how the organisation worked and the defendants’ role in the conspiracy,” the Express-News reports.
Another aspect of the story evolved this week, as the TAMUCC student newspaper — the Island Waves — recieved threats from Kappa Sigma as they prepared to publish a story with the former students’ names.
As Dan Reimold reports at College Media Matters, “some Kappa Sig guys first warned the paper not to print the former students’ names because they were now allegedly in the federal witness protection program and revealing their identities would be illegal.”
However, Reimold writes, the truth is that Woerner and Sluyter are not currently in any sort of witness protection program, but rather “They simply don’t want to remind some of their old smuggling colleagues that they were the ones who helped get them busted.”
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