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Texas officials search for 2 wanted migrants, release mugshots of others in March border stampede

Texas DPS announced 214 migrants were arrested on state rioting charges for a March 21 border incident in El Paso. Most, including two still on the run, are from Venezuela.

Texas authorities have released the mugshots of a number of migrants, including Venezuelan nationals, and the names of two others who are facing felony charges for rioting and assault during a dramatic migrant surge in El Paso last month that saw migrants tear up fencing and charge past Texas forces. 

The Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed the arrest of 214 illegal migrants on state rioting charges in connection with the March 21 incident in which a group of predominantly adult male migrants pushed through the concertina wire and headed deeper into the U.S.

Nine of them are facing felony rioting charges, seven of whom are in custody and have been booked in the El Paso County jail. Texas DPS released the names of the five Venezuelans, one Guatemalan and one Ecuadorian.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE COVERAGE OF THE BORDER CRISIS

Junior Evaristo Benitez-Martinez, Keider Jose Zurita Aponte, Gregori Jose Guilarte-Acosta, and Omar Alejandro Graterol Colmenares are also charged with rioting as a felony, criminal mischief and assault of a public servant.

Joshua Fernando Garcia Juarez, Luis Jesus Chacon and Martin Elias Villasis Cedeno are charged with rioting as a felony. 

But two others have warrants out for their arrest. Juan Jose Colorado Gutierrez and Gabriel Enrique Angarita Carrasquero, both of Venezuela, are wanted for rioting, criminal mischief and assault of a public servant. 

Texas DPS said that all 214 will be held until they can be taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The group is made up of men and women from Venezuela, Guatemala, Ecuador, Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.

ILLEGAL MIGRANT WHO WENT TIKTOK VIRAL URGING OTHERS TO SQUAT IN PEOPLE'S HOMES ARRESTED BY ICE

Public defender Kelli Childress, who is representing the migrants, said in a press conference on Tuesday that the incident had been misconstrued based on limited footage and that authorities did not have probable cause to arrest them.

"The charges against these migrants are false, and they are an attempt to inflame the public," she said. "We are armed with the truth, and we are prepared to defend our clients in criminal court."

Despite the arrests, it is unclear how likely it is they will ultimately be deported from the U.S. 

FORMER TOP ICE OFFICIAL SIDES WITH TEXAS GOV ABBOTT OVER BIDEN IN ONGOING BORDER BATTLE

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has previously said it is enforcing consequences for illegal entry as ICE prioritizes national security and public safety threats for deportation.

"There are consequences to crossing the border illegally, and CBP continues to enforce United States immigration laws," CBP said in a statement after the incident. "Individuals and families without a legal basis to remain in the U.S. are subject to removal, and are subject to a minimum five-year bar on reapplying for admission and potential criminal prosecution if they subsequently re-enter without authorization. No one should believe the lies of smugglers; individuals and families without a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed."

But Venezuela, which started accepting direct deportation flights of its nationals in October, stopped accepting them earlier this year. Venezuelans can still be returned to Mexico, where the government will still take them, but officials have told Fox that many then re-enter as "gotaways."

Only 834 Venezuelans were deported in fiscal 2023, according to (ICE), despite there being more than 335,000 encounters at the border.

Meanwhile, there have been growing concerns about the rise of the Venezuelan street gang Tren De Aragua in the U.S., which some lawmakers have compared to MS-13, the bloodthirsty Salvadoran gang.

A CBP source provided Fox News with an internal CBP intelligence bulletin revealing tattoos and identifiers for Tren de Aragua, a Venezuelan prison gang. Members of that gang have been entering the U.S. illegally through the southern border.

In February, two suspects in the assault of two NYPD officers were revealed to be members of TdA. Also, the brother of the suspect accused in the recent killing of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley has ties to the gang, Fox News previously reported. Both the suspect and his brother are illegal immigrants from Venezuela.

Fox News' Emmett Jones and Bill Melugin contributed to this report.

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