Posted on September 19, 2023

The ‘Fastest Growing Development’ in the U.S. Is a Magnet for Illegal Immigrants

Spencer Lindquist, Daily Wire, September 16, 2023

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.

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.


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. {snip}

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.


{snip} 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 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.”


Other Republicans who have received money from Harris include Texas congressman Morgan Luttrell, who received three maximum contributions of $2,900 in the 2022 cycle. Luttrell told The Daily Wire he “just recently learned” about Colony Ridge.


While it remains unclear exactly how many people live at Colony Ridge, estimates suggest that the population in the development could include tens of thousands of illegal aliens.

A Texas Public Policy Foundation report from 2020 contended that there were approximately 20,000 residents living in Colony Ridge at the time. The number has since surged, with Colony Ridge itself stating in January that their Santa Fe development, just one of six developments that make up the entire operation, has 35,000 residents.

“Prior to the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the population of Colony Ridge’s master planned Houston El Norte communities was on a trajectory to surpass 100,000 in just a few short years,” the three year-old report reads. It notes that the development could eventually balloon to more than a quarter-million residents.

The January statement added that the developer was “selling 200-250 lots every week, growing on average 150-200 new rooftops per month,” and called it “the fastest growing development in the U.S.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation report said Liberty County was now home to “the fastest-growing Hispanic population in the United States,” and that the local Cleveland Independent School District is struggling to manage more than 100 new enrollments every month, forcing the residents to sign up for $300 million in bonds to finance four new schools and the expansion of a fifth. The district has also struggled with the sudden surge of students who are not proficient in English, and is now offering $7,000 annual stipends to bilingual teachers.


Though Harris and his legal team maintain they’re doing nothing illegal, national security experts say the danger posed by developments like Colony Ridge will only get worse as illegal immigrants flood the country.

“Think of the chain migration that comes in, think of the criminal elements with the cartels that come in through that chain migration,” J. Michael Waller, Senior Analyst for Strategy at the Center for Security Policy told The Daily Wire. “This is going to be cartel land near Houston and at risk of being a no-go zone.”

Waller said developments like Colony Ridge will “change the entire United States of America,” and to a large extent, already have, going on to suggest that similar settlements are “being planted in pockets around the country.”