Texas attorney arrested for human smuggling


Attorney Dan Japhet was arrested in Del Rio and spent six days in jail. He says he was heading to Eagle Pass to gamble and made a mistake giving hitchhikers a ride.

DEL RIO, Texas — A Corpus Christi attorney is back home after spending six days behind bars. He was arrested Aug. 13 near the border in Del Rio with four migrants in his rental car.

Attorney Timothy Dan Japhet said he was cited on four cases of human smuggling but has not been indicted or formally charged. He was released Friday after posting a $40,000 bail bond.

“I’m out on bond until they indict me,” Japhet told 3NEWS. He added he does not think they will ever indict him and thinks the case will eventually get dropped.

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News of the arrest went viral on Saturday when a constable from Galveston posted about it on Facebook to congratulate his deputies. They were in Del Rio as part of Operation Lone Star, the task force that Gov. Greg Abbott created to combat illegal immigration.

Japhet was arrested while wearing an orange Corpus Christi Hooks jersey.

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Japhet said he was actually heading to an Eagle Pass casino and had his dog with him. He said he mistakenly agreed to give some hitchhikers a ride, got nervous about his decision and then tried to get pulled over.

He said a man approached him when he had stopped to let his dog use the bathroom. The man asked if Japhet would give him and his friend a ride. Japhet said yes, but then two more people suddenly appeared. Japhet said he protested but felt pressured to take them.

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“I thought, this is not looking good for me right now,” Japhet said. “I made a bad decision.”

Japhet said he tried to drive fast to get the attention of law enforcement.

“There were cops every turn. There was DPS, Homeland Security, Border Patrol, city, county…”

Japhet says deputies working with the Department of Public Safety stopped him initially and then Border Patrol showed up. He said he allowed Border Patrol to search his phone, look at his apps, and read his text messages and call log.

He thought they were going to let him go — until the tow truck showed up.

A ‘federally appointed immigration magistrate?’

Japhet said Galveston County Constable Jimmy Fullen got two things wrong in his viral Facebook post. Japhet said he was not cited for resisting arrest and that he is not a “federally appointed immigration magistrate.”

He said the only immigration law he practices is property-based when someone owns property in Mexico.

3NEWS was not able to independently confirm Japhet’s charges, but both Fullen and Japhet agree he was arrested for human smuggling. Japhet says it was four counts of human smuggling since there were four people in his car. He said it’s a third-degree felony.

Attorney has not gotten his car or dog back

Japhet said when he was locked up for six days, his dog was also taken away. Japhet still has not gotten his animal or his rental car back, although he hopes to possibly get his dog back on Monday.

“I’m missing my dog ​​terribly. I’ll go back to Del Rio, I’ll get a car and go back [Monday] and get my dog. And find out how much it’s going to cost me.”

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