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Texas Attorney Arrested for Alleged Human Smuggling at Border


Attorney Dan Japhet in front of police unit in handcuffs | Image by Constable Jimmy Fullen

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A Corpus Christi attorney was arrested last week near the border in Del Rio on suspicion of human smuggling and resisting arrest.

Attorney Timothy Dan Japhet was arrested on August 13 after allegedly being pulled over by police with four unlawful migrants in his rental car. He was released on Friday after six days in custody when he posted a $40,000 bail bond.

Japhet’s arrest went viral after Galveston County Precinct Two Constable Jimmy Fullen posted about the incident on Facebook on Saturday.

Fullen is among many law enforcement officers from across the state assisting border patrol and local officials with responding to unlawful migration as part of Operation Lone Star.

“A licensed Texas attorney and Federally appointed immigration magistrate was recently arrested in Kinney County, Texas for Smuggling of a human and resisting arrest,” Fullen wrote. “Great job Deputy Gonzalez and Troopers who were on scene assisting.”

Fullen posted images of the subjects arrested, including Japhet, and a photograph of his law license indicating he was licensed in May 2003.

Japhet told ABC affiliate 3 News that Constable Fullen got two things wrong in his viral Facebook post. Japhet said he was not cited for resisting arrest and is not a “federally appointed immigration magistrate.”

The only immigration law Japhet practices is property-based when someone owns property in Mexico.

Japhet claimed he made a mistake by picking up what he believed to be hitchhikers. He said he was heading to an Eagle Pass casino and had his dog with him when the incident occurred.

He said a man approached him when he had stopped to let his dog use the bathroom. The man asked Japhet if he would give him and his friend a ride, and he agreed, but two more people suddenly appeared, Japhet claimed.

The attorney said he protested but felt pressured to take them.

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

Japhet said he got nervous about his decision and then tried to get pulled over by driving fast to get the attention of law enforcement.

The Texas attorney was pulled over for allegedly failing to drive in one lane, according to a copy of the arrest report obtained by the Daily Caller. The report alleged that Japhet did not follow the arresting deputy’s commands to turn the car off, saying, “I haven’t done anything wrong” when he was told to exit the vehicle.

“While attempting to place the male in custody he was yelling ‘I’m a Judge, I’m a Judge.’ Once I had the male subject in custody, I advised dispatch the male subject was an elected Judge he corrected me and said ‘No, I am an appointed Judge,’” the report from the arresting officer read.

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

Japhet said he was cited on four human smuggling charges but has not been indicted.

“I’m out on bond until they indict me,” Japhet said, adding he does not believe he will ever be indicted and that the case will eventually be dropped.    

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