Inside Colony Ridge: The ‘Fastest Growing Development’ In The U.S. Is A Magnet For Illegal Immigrants | Eastern North Carolina Now

Experts say growing community of illegal immigrants in Texas development invites cartel activity, is a national security issue

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Spencer Lindquist.

    PLUM GROVE, Texas     A Texas land developer has established a sprawling settlement north of Houston where thousands of illegal immigrants are believed to have settled, raising concerns among experts and elected officials that the development 400 miles in the interior of the United States could become a strategic asset for cartels.

    Located in Liberty County, Texas near the small town of Plum Grove, the Colony Ridge development is a sprawling community that, based on an analysis of publicly available information, is now over 60 square miles and nearly the size of the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Its population is estimated to be anywhere between 50,000 to 75,000, and it is growing rapidly thanks to a marketing plan targeted at Texas' hispanic population.

    The Daily Wire surveyed the development by helicopter to assess the true extent of its growth. The flight began in the wealthy Woodlands neighborhood, but it was only minutes before the designer homes and pools gave way to half-built homes, dilapidated trailers, and heaps of trash.

    Houses on the ground fly the flags of foreign countries and many homes display their addresses on spray painted pieces of plywood. Many structures, some of which are not hooked up to running water, were under construction, while others were unfinished but didn't appear to be actively getting worked on. At least one plot of land didn't have any structures at all, just a tent in the corner, nestled between shrubs. Stray dogs without collars could be seen trotting along the side of the underdeveloped streets.

    But despite what appears to be poor living conditions throughout much of the development, Colony Ridge is exploding. The view from the sky revealed a sprawling labyrinth of roundabouts and endless rows of sidewalkless streets, with empty plots waiting to be developed. The edges of the property are dotted with construction vehicles, each one tasked with cutting and clearing the surrounding forest to make way for yet more growth.

    A calculation performed based on acreage and lot data provided on the Colony Ridge website for each of their six subdivisions found that it was already more than 60 square miles, which is bigger than major southern cities such as Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Asheville, North Carolina.

    Colony Ridge, owned and operated by developer William "Trey" Harris, is rapidly expanding, at least in part due to a financing arrangement that makes it possible for illegal aliens to buy land deep in the heart of Texas. While traditional financing methods require credit ratings and proof of income, Todd Bensman, a National Security Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Wire that buyers at Colony Ridge are able to circumvent the usual requirements, even dodging the need to provide a social security number.

    "Because with a traditional bank loan you need to be able to show that you have a credit rating and proof of income," Bensman said, adding that buyers at Colony Ridge are asked to pay as little as a "few hundred dollars" as a down payment. "The loan is directly from the developer, bypassing traditional mortgages," and while the buyer might pay high interest rates near 15%, it's a great deal for someone with no other option to buy land in the country, Bensman explained.


    Doing business as Terrenos Houston (which translates to Houston Land), the company appears to market its property entirely in Spanish, telling prospective buyers they can own land in the United States. An advertisement posted on the Instagram page for Terrenos Houston appears to target those who are either not currently living in the United States or who are not citizens of the country. The caption of the post, written in Spanish, roughly translates to "Still renting? Own land in the United States!"

    It encourages potential buyers to reach out via Whatsapp, known as "a go-to app for millions of people who need to communicate internationally" because it "operates using an internet connection, bypassing traditional international calling restrictions and fees." Numerous posts are hashtagged "#EstadosUnidos."

    But in addition to marketing to those who might want to "own land in the United States," many of the development's employees appear to be foreign nationals, living in Colombia and other Latin American countries, according to the Terrenos Houston LinkedIn profile.

    The plots of land come with nothing on them and at an affordable price - the current offer is two adjacent plots of land for $65,000, with the buyers responsible for constructing a place to live.

    Likely due to the massive influx of migrants into Texas since President Joe Biden took office in 2021, Bensman told The Daily Wire that Colony Ridge "is in the midst of maybe its greatest boom ever."

    Michael Yon, an independent journalist who has repeatedly flown over and driven through Colony Ridge to document its expansion, projects that the development will soon house hundreds of thousands.

    "I don't know how many live there now, but this is going to be big enough for 200,000 people," Yon told The Daily Wire. "They're actually building a city."


    William Trey Harris, the developer, did not respond to request for comment. Within days of the initial inquiry, however, an article was published by The Center Square featuring "exclusive" comment from both Harris and his attorney to push back against claims that Colony Ridge has become the "largest illegal alien settlement in Texas."

    In it, Harris and his lawyer state that the company does not advertise outside of the United States, but acknowledge that accommodations are made for applicants who may not have a social security number. "Depending on the application, customers provide Social Security numbers, ITINs, Texas driver's licenses, state IDs, passports and other forms of identification," Harris explained to the outlet, which goes on to state that there is nothing illegal about noncitizens buying land in the United States and that property developers are not legally required to check immigration status - that's on the federal government's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, it contends. (The Center Square reporter Bethany Blankley did not respond to a request for comment on how its story came about.)

    Bensman, however, says that one of the reasons Colony Ridge is appealing is the thin law enforcement in the area, which is struggling to keep up with the exploding population.

    "There's very thin law enforcement presence in that area," he added. "It's appealing because they plan to live and work illegally. That means that they probably have to break a whole lot of different kinds of laws in order to buy vehicles and drive the vehicles and maybe show documents to potential employers. When people buy here, they're buying peace of mind from law enforcement."

    A representative of the Liberty County Sheriff's office told The Daily Wire its officers do not check immigration status in routine stops because it "would take forever." He said the immigration status of suspects would only be checked when investigating violent crimes.


    Republican congressman Brian Babin, who represents a neighboring Texas district and also recently surveyed the development by helicopter, says Colony Ridge has doubled in size in recent years and is concerned about cartel activity.

    "It was very concerning to fly over it. It's got an enormous footprint. In the three years since I last saw it, it looks like it's pretty much doubled in size," Babin told The Daily Wire. "There is word that the cartels are playing a role in this area."

    Representative Babin is not the only one concerned about potential cartel activity in the area. Members of law enforcement in the area explained that members of the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels had invested in Colony Ridge properties early on in order to set up safe houses for human and drug smuggling operations, Bensman reports in his book.

    "The Mexican cartels are very active in that they run safe houses, they run drugs, they do marijuana grows, they commit crimes," Bensman explained, citing conversations he's had with law enforcement. "This is a homeland security issue. It's a public safety issue."

    The site and the surrounding area have been the site of both drug-related and violent crime, including a gang and narcotics case that began with reports of gunfire exchanges, as well as the murder of a mother of five by a Mexican woman who reportedly practiced Santeria, and was married to a high ranking Mexican cartel member.

    Last year, a 16-year old girl was found dead from a gunshot wound in a ditch in Colony Ridge. And earlier this year an illegal immigrant in the area killed five neighbors, a family who was also here illegally, after they reportedly asked him to stop firing his semi-automatic rifle into the air late one night.


    Cartel activity in the area appears to date back until at least the early 2010's, with agents from five different federal agencies and law enforcement in Liberty County having discovered a massive marijuana growing operation in 2013. The sophisticated operation included guard towers and a 20 foot-deep irrigation pond the size of a football field. More than $4 million worth of marijuana was recovered.

    The massive pocket of illegal immigrants in the backyard of America's fourth largest city has somehow avoided serious scrutiny, and critics point the finger at some Texas lawmakers who have made a career out of calling for a strong border.

    "There are some serious allegations that Republican politicians are involved in the development," Chris Russo, the President of Texans for Strong Borders, told The Daily Wire, citing "massive political donations that've been made by the developers."

    Russo pointed to Texas' Republican governor, Greg Abbott, who has taken $1.4 million in political contributions from Trey Harris, according to campaign records. Harris' wife, Celeste Harris, also donated $100,000 to Abbott's campaign in 2018, records show. Her occupation is listed as "Colony Ridge Development."

    Asked about Colony Ridge, Abbott spokesman Andrew Mahaleris told The Daily Wire that the governor deployed public safety troopers to Liberty County to support the sheriff's office but has not received requests for additional deployments. Mahaleris also said, "The Governor's office will ensure the 2017 law the Governor signed banning sanctuary cities is upheld."

    When asked about the large political contributions, Abbott's office did not return a comment.
Go Back

Back to Top