Goliad sheriff sign
Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd with Commander Operation Lone Star Task Force, John Davis, Goliad, Texas. Translated from Spanish to English, the sign reads: "WARNING!!! Traffickers of drugs and humans turn around. Do not enter Goliad County or we will hunt you down and throw you in jail.”

(The Center Square) – A sheriff whose ancestors fought and died in the American Revolution and the Texas Revolution is continuing the fight for freedom in Goliad, Texas, this time against criminal cartels involved in a massive human and drug trafficking operation, he says.

Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd, a seventh-generation Texan who was elected in November 2020 after a 20-plus year career in law enforcement, is leading a multi-county task force to thwart what he says is a massive criminal network operating along Highway 59. The network stems from Mexico through Laredo to the trafficking distribution hub of Houston.

After Biden administration policies ushered in cartel activity through the southern border, Boyd said, Goliad found itself in the middle of a several hundred million dollar a month human trafficking operation.

Roughly 850 square-miles, the rural county’s winding roads are only interrupted by two stop lights. Its population is 7,400, and Boyd and multiple law enforcement officers are working to protect them from cartel activity in their community.

The border crisis isn’t about illegal immigration, Boyd argues, it’s about the lucrative business of human trafficking. Most who illegally enter at ports of entry do so by paying cartel operatives who orchestrate their crossing, the sheriff said. Once in the U.S., they owe the cartels thousands of dollars and work as indentured servants, Boyd said.

Those who enter illegally between ports of entry, intentionally evading law enforcement with many committing crimes along the way, are the ones Boyd and his task force are looking for, he said. They’re stealing cars, breaking into homes, committing sexual and other violent crimes, and trafficking large groups of people and unprecedented amounts of drugs, he said. Many are armed and dangerous, the sheriff added.

Goliad sits right in the middle of their route: a 2.5-hour drive from Mexico and a 2.5-hour drive to Houston, the largest city closest to the border and primary cartel destination in Texas.

Initially, Boyd only had two deputies. But because of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, he was able to hire more and is leading a strike force to thwart criminal activity. “Gov. Abbott threw us a lifeline,” he said. “Before Operation Lone Star, we were drowning.”

Goliad County was among the first to declare a state of disaster last year in response to the increased criminal activity perpetuated by what he says are Biden administration policies. The county was among the first to declare an invasion at the southern border – on July 5, 2022.

Stash house in Goliad, Texas

Stash house in Goliad, Texas

Goliad is at the center of fighting the cartel human trafficking operation after its residents fought the Mexican Army on Oct. 9, 1835, one week after those in Gonzalez did, on Oct. 2, 1835. They were the first two skirmishes that sparked the Texas Revolution. In the March 1836 Goliad Massacre, nearly 350 Texans, many led by Col. James Fannin, were killed by Mexican troops, including five of Boyd’s ancestors.

Even though Texans would gain independence on April 21, 1836, they’d fight another war over its border, and win, in 1848. Now, 174 years later, Boyd says Texans are battling a new enemy coming north from Mexico, transnational criminal organizations whom Abbott has designated as terrorist organizations. Since January 2021, the cartels have attempted to bring in enough fentanyl to kill 5 billion people, according to federal data, which U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have confiscated and say is a fraction of the drugs pouring through.

Boyd says he'll do all he can to fight back against the deadly cartel actions.

“If you break the law in Goliad County, you’re going to jail,” he said.

On a ride along, Boyd showed The Center Square a stash house hidden deep in the woods off a county road. No one would know it was there were it not for his team searching for it, he said. So far, they’ve found 16.

Stash houses are used by traffickers to hide and hold people illegally. The house observed by The Center Square was full of trash and clothes, had no water or electricity and was structurally unsound.

Goliad stash house

Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd in stash house used by cartels.

Searching for criminals and defending freedom is what Boyd’s ancestors did, according to historical accounts. Boyd’s sixth great grandfather was married to the aunt of Col. Jim Bowie, who famously fought and perished at the Alamo. Gideon Lincecum was “raised in the school of rebellion, and graduated on various battlefields during the American Revolution,” according to one of his biographies. He died fighting for freedom in the Revolutionary War.

Boyd’s fourth great-grandfather, Dr. Gideon Lincecum, a veteran of the War of 1812, is buried in Founders Row at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. His extensive writings about Texas fill 13 boxes and occupy over four feet of shelf space at the Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center at the University of Texas.

His great-great grandfather was a Texas Ranger who fought in skirmishes at the Texas Mexico border in 1915. He was also a doctor who opened the first hospital in Wharton County and the mayor of El Campo. Other family members founded Caldwell County.

Boyd told The Center Square, “As Texans, we don’t conduct ourselves out of a desire for attention or recognition. The Bible warns us about such selfishness. … It’s our duty to preserve the heritage that our forefathers fought and died for so that our children and their children can continue to be blessed as their ancestors have been to live in a free and independent state and nation.”

Of his efforts to thwart criminal activity stemming from the border crisis, he said, “Our task is demanding. We struggle against foreign invasion and elements of our own government simultaneously, but we must persevere. It’s a tireless and often misunderstood mission that we’ve taken on. But who wants to be known as the generation that lost our once great nation to the evils of those who work to strip free people of their birthright?

“My family did not fight and die in the American and Texas revolutions for nothing. They believed in the right to independence and the importance of the individual. They helped establish a sovereign United States, the Republic of Texas, and the State of Texas. Now we find ourselves in trying times once more. Oppression is knocking at our door. It is our turn to stand up and do what is right. We will either be victorious in our efforts, or future generations will suffer for our failure.”

Boyd says his team is on track to make 500 arrests this year, up from 77 in previous years.

Potential criminals are warned by a sign at one county entrance. Translated from Spanish, it reads: “WARNING!!! Traffickers of drugs and humans turn around. Do not enter Goliad County or we will hunt you down and throw you in jail.”