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Texas National Guard member arrested and charged after allegedly smuggling a migrant and leading officers on high-speed chase

By Ashley Killough and Ed Lavandera, CNN

(CNN) — A member of the Texas National Guard was arrested and charged with human smuggling after allegedly leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase near the Texas-Mexico border on Sunday.

The suspect, identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety as 26-year-old Savion Johnson, was approaching a checkpoint in Kinney County when he turned his vehicle around and started driving away from authorities, Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe told CNN.

Deputies from the Kinney County Sheriff’s Office, as well as troopers with the DPS engaged in the chase, Coe said. At one point, the vehicle briefly stopped and a migrant got out of the vehicle and fled on foot, according to Coe, who added authorities were unable to locate the migrant.

The vehicle was eventually stopped on Highway 90, near Brackettville after law enforcement laid down spikes on the road to slow it down. A sheriff’s deputy found identification on Johnson that connected him to the National Guard, according to Coe.

“He had his uniform and helmet in the (vehicle) with him,” Coe said, adding that he was told the individual was on active duty at the time with Operation Lone Star, the massive, state-led law enforcement initiative at the border.

Johnson was taken into custody by DPS and was not booked in Kinney County.

DPS charged Johnson with evading arrest, smuggling of persons and unlawful carry of a weapon, DPS spokesperson Lt. Chris Olivarez said in a statement. The investigation is ongoing, he added.

CNN has not been able to identify an attorney for Johnson. CNN has reached out to the local district attorney’s office, the US Attorney’s office, and Customs and Border Protection.

Andrew Mahaleris, a spokesperson for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, released a strongly worded statement about the incident.

“If the allegations are true, the accused is a traitor and criminal. We have zero tolerance for Texans who violate laws that directly contradict the mission we are seeking to achieve,” Mahaleris wrote. “The accused’s illegal smuggling may subject him to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least 10 years. He deserves more.”

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