SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Monday that his office will launch an investigation into who was behind the recruitment of nearly 50 migrants in San Antonio to be flown on a charter plane to Florida and Massachusetts.
Salazar said the migrants were “lured” Wednesday from a North Side migrant resource center on San Pedro Avenue under false pretenses of work by someone who was paid a “bird-dog” fee.
The migrants were allegedly told of jobs and housing if they agreed to board the plane, Salazar said.
“Somebody preyed upon these people,” Salazar said at a Monday afternoon news conference.
Salazar said that all people in the United States, regardless of immigration status, have rights that he believes were potentially violated.
WATCH: Will charter flight involving migrants affect other asylum seekers in SA?
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, claimed credit for the two charter flights of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, an upscale vacation spot in Massachusetts.
He told NPR and other outlets that it was part of the state’s program to relocate migrants to a “sanctuary destination.”
And less than two hours after Salazar announced his probe, DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske, responded to the investigation on Twitter.
“Immigrants are more than willing to leave Bexar County after being enticed to cross the border and ‘to fend for themselves.’ FL provided an opportunity in a sanctuary state w/ resources, as expected – unlike the 53 who died in an abandoned truck in Bexar County in June,” the tweet said.
Immigrants are more than willing to leave Bexar County after being enticed to cross the border and ‘to fend for themselves.’
FL provided an opportunity in a sanctuary state w/ resources, as expected – unlike the 53 who died in an abandoned truck in Bexar County in June. https://t.co/gUXHb9nRcM
Salazar, a Democrat, denied his investigation was politically motivated but said the moving of Venezualan migrants under false pretenses was cruel.
“They were lured there for little more than a video op and political posturing,” he said.
Salazar said he had not been contacted by the White House or Biden administration, but welcomed assistance.
Salazar said that he has “persons of interest” in the case but wouldn’t name any suspects yet.
He also didn’t know what specific crimes were committed.
WATCH: Bexar County District Attorney reacts after sheriff announces investigation
The sheriff added that he is talking with an attorney representing some of the migrants to find out what happened.
He said investigators are trying to get a first-hand account of what the migrants were told.
Salazar said the migrants remain on the East Coast.
WATCH: Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar news conference: