U.S. and Mexican Truckers Arrested in Three Big Rig Human Smuggling Busts in Two Days
Salton City, CA; Laredo, TX – It’s been a busy time for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as agents have disrupted three separate big rig human smuggling operations in the last several days.
The first of the three occurred on Saturday, June 6, at the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 35 north of Laredo.
A red tractor hauling a white trailer approached the I-35 checkpoint in the afternoon hours, CBP reports.
During an immigration inspection of the driver, a Service K-9 alerted and when agents opened the locked trailer they discovered 17 individuals inside.
Each were illegally present in the United States from the countries of Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Honduras.
The truck driver, a U.S. citizen, and all 17 individuals were taken into custody pending further investigation, CBP says.
The tractor was also turned over to the Webb County Sheriff’s Office as it had been reported as stolen.
The second bust happened the next morning when agents at the I-35 checkpoint encountered a second red tractor hauling a white trailer.
During a non-intrusive scan of the vehicle, agents observed several individuals in the trailer.
The driver attempted to exit the checkpoint, but agents performed a vehicle stop.
A total of 16 individuals were then discovered inside the refrigerated trailer.
Each were determined to be from Mexico, and found to be illegally present in the United States.
Agents arrested the driver and passenger, both United States citizens, and the individuals pending further investigation.
The tractor and trailer were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.
The last of the three occurred on Monday at approximately 7:25 p.m. at the Highway 86 immigration checkpoint in Salton City, CA.
CBP reports a truck driver operating a flatbed 2007 Strong BTM semi tractor-trailer truck hauling hay bales approached the checkpoint.
During an immigration check on the driver, a Border Patrol K-9 detection team alerted to the rear area of the conveyance.
The driver was referred for further inspection.
During further inspection, Border Patrol agents discovered 13 illegal aliens concealed under several bales of hay on the back of the tractor-trailer.
Due to the weight of the hay bales and the manner of placement over and around the individuals, CBP says they were “trapped inside with no means for escape.”
Agents safely removed all of the subjects and conducted welfare checks, ensuring no one needed medical aid.
The 42-year-old driver from Mexico, and 13 individuals including 12 adult men and one woman, each also from Mexico, were placed under arrest.
CPB informs the driver and all 13 individuals were expelled back to Mexico.