Border Patrol notes uptick in drivers using trailers in human-smuggling attempts

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Human Smuggling
On Jan. 30, agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection discovered 33 undocumented immigrants being transported in a tractor-trailer. (Courtesy: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

MARFA, Texas, and LAREDO, Texas — Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Big Bend Sector say they have seen a “notable increase” in undocumented immigrants found in sealed cargo trailers, moving trailers and even livestock trailers. These trailers were not equipped with proper ventilation, food, water or protection from the elements, escalating the dangers faced by illegal immigrants.

Agents made apprehended more than 80 people in three separate events Jan. 24, 29, and 30. According to a CBP statement, the smugglers were discovered to have active warrants, weapons in the vehicles and previous criminal histories. Prosecution is ongoing under the appropriate statutes, and the vehicles, weapons and trailers have been seized. The migrants apprehended during the three events are citizens of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. All subjects were processed according to Big Bend Sector protocols for immediate removal or further criminal prosecution.

Agents with CBP’s Laredo Sector also stopped human-smuggling events involving trailers over the weekend of Jan. 30-31.

On Jan. 30, agents with the Laredo South Station responded to a citizen’s report of suspicious activity in south Laredo. According to a statement from CBP, agents responded to a report of a gray tractor-trailer loading up several individuals near a business on State Highway 359.

Agents searched the area and apprehended 33 people in the cab and trailer of the vehicle. The individuals were in the U.S. illegally from the countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Most of the individuals were not wearing any personal protective equipment (PPE). All were provided PPE, medically screened and taken into custody.

Also on Jan. 30, agents from the Laredo West Station stopped a human smuggling attempt at the Highway 83 checkpoint northwest of Laredo.

The incident occurred during the early morning when a tractor-trailer approached the checkpoint. A service K9 alerted agents to the tractor-trailer during an immigration inspection of the driver. The vehicle was referred to secondary for further inspection, where a search of the the trailer revealed 42 undocumented immigrants.

None of the immigrants were wearing PPE; after medical screenings they were provided with PPE. They were determined to be in the U.S. illegally from the countries of Mexico and Guatemala. The immigrants were placed under arrest along with the driver, a U.S. citizen, pending investigation by special agents of Homeland Security Investigations. The tractor-trailer was seized by CBP.

To report suspicious activity or human smuggling in the Big Bend Sector, call 866-581-7549. In the Laredo Sector, call 800-800-343-1994.

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