WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A man is behind bars after authorities said a DPS trooper pulled him over for false buyer’s tags on his car, only to discover five people in his car he was attempting to smuggle.
Emerzon Francisco Manzano faces charges of smuggling of persons and displaying a fictitious license plate.
Manzano’s bonds have been set at a total of $26,000, however, he is being held in the Wichita County Jail without bond on a detainer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
According to the arrest affidavit, a trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety pulled over a 2007 Honda Civic on Friday, July 1, 2022, just after 9:15 a.m. on U.S. Highway 287 near Peterson Road.
The trooper said when he ran a license plate check on the Honda Civic, the buyer’s tag returned for a 2022 international truck tractor, not the Civic.
The affidavit said the trooper noticed the letter digit was in the wrong place on the license plate.
Authorities said the trooper initiated a traffic stop. He said when he spoke with the driver and observed the five passengers, it appeared similar to his experience working human smuggling on the U.S./Mexico border.
According to the affidavit, four of the passengers in the back seat appeared nervous and refused to speak with the trooper initially.
Authorities said the driver, Manzano, who gave the trooper an identification card from Honduras, could not identify any of the other passengers in the car.
The affidavit said Manzano told the trooper he was driving the five passengers to Dallas from Vernon to work construction jobs, though the trooper noted none of them appeared to be dressed to work construction.
When the trooper interviewed the passengers, they also said they were traveling from Vernon to Dallas for work.
According to the affidavit, the front seat passenger also told authorities he had paid the driver for transportation and fuel.
Manzano told the trooper he bought the Honda Civic recently but was “given” the false tags.
The affidavit said after Manzano was placed under arrest, he began to have diabetic complications due to high blood sugar. While at the hospital, Manzano indicated to authorities he was smuggling the other individuals to “help his mother”.
A check of the Wichita County Jail inmate roster shows five inmates who were also booked on Friday, July 1, on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer and no other charges.
Manzano was cleared by medical staff and transported to the Wichita County Jail.