Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed an enforcement action to stop a Cameron County developer from continuing to subdivide and lease lots in violation of Texas colonia-prevention laws.

The State’s enforcement action, which was filed in Travis County, names Jose Cuevas, Sr., Jose Cuevas, Jr., and Maria Trinidad Cuevas as defendants. Court documents filed by the State charge the defendants with unlawfully subdividing the property and leasing residential lots without the required wastewater infrastructure. The defendants are also charged with failing to obtain plat approval from county officials.

According to state investigators, the defendants unlawfully subdivided a block within the community known as Laguna Heights in Cameron County, and improperly created a mobile home community. Upon inspection of the site, investigators found that currently there are a total of 37 mobile homes in the lot of less than one acre in size being leased on verbal month-to-month agreements. Currently, the unlawfully-platted lot has twice the number of mobile homes allowed by Cameron County’s minimum lot size requirements. Furthermore, the developers failed to provide adequate infrastructure such as sewage lines. As a result, untreated wastewater has been discharged onto the ground within the community, creating a health hazard to its residents.

The State’s enforcement action is seeking civil penalties and an injunction that will compel defendants to comply with Texas colonia-prevention laws, obtain plat approval and provide proper water and wastewater infrastructure. The State is also seeking an injunction prohibiting the Cuevases from marketing property leases until the minimum water and wastewater infrastructure is installed or bonds guaranteeing that infrastructure have been duly purchased. Under Texas law, unincorporated residential subdivisions near the U.S.-Mexico border are commonly referred to as colonias if they lack adequate water and sewage infrastructure. Most colonias lie outside city limits or in isolated areas of a county and lack even basic infrastructure or utilities. Residents often must haul water, go without electricity and risk higher incidence of disease.

Before purchasing residential property outside city limits, border area land purchasers should check with county officials to confirm the property was legally subdivided and that the developer has made necessary arrangements to supply required infrastructure.

Texans can file complaints with the Attorney General’s Office against developers or sellers who fail to provide water and wastewater services or who subdivide land without first obtaining necessary county approval. Complaints can be filed on the Attorney General’s website at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or by calling (800) 252-8011.

To access the legal action filed against the land developer, click here.