Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Highway Patrol troopers pulled over a U-Haul moving truck in Odessa. Inside, troopers found 16 illegal immigrants, including a one-year-old.
The suspected illegal aliens were from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador, officials stated. In addition to the infant, there were 15 adults in the back of the truck, CBS7 reported.
The local CBS affiliate noted that Border Patrol agents believe that the human smuggling operation came out of El Paso, on the Texas-Mexico Border approximately 283 miles away. A citizen notified DPS about the truck.
Odessa is located in west Texas in Ector County and is part of the Midland-Odessa metropolitan area. It was the fastest-growing region in the United States from 2010-2015 according to U.S. Census data, reported the Midland-Reporter Telegram in March 2016.
DPS troopers pulled the truck over as it headed eastbound on Interstate 20.
“Coyotes” or human smugglers use a variety of means to haul their cargo. Many times, these individuals lives are put at risk–some even die. When packed into the back of a truck, people are put at risk of severe injury or death in the event of a crash. They are also locked inside the cargo area, unable to escape in the event of an emergency. Additionally, heat inside can reach dangerously high levels exposing the people to possible heat exhaustion, stroke, or dehydration.
On May 9, Breitbart Texas reported that agents with the U.S. Border Patrol assigned to the Falfurrias Checkpoint in south Texas discovered 14 migrants inside a grain hauler. Agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector (RGV) observed the vehicle approaching the checkpoint in Brooks County, about 80 miles north of the Mexican border with Texas. A K-9 agent alerted on the truck. When agents directed the driver, a U.S. citizen, to move the truck to a secondary inspection station for further examination, he continued proceeding north. Agents followed the truck and the driver eventually pulled over without incident. When agents searched the trailer, they found 14 migrants hiding under a tarp. Officials arrested the driver and seized the truck and the trailer.
Authorities with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were reported to have taken over the illegal trafficking investigation. Officials are working to determine any criminal backgrounds of the smuggled aliens.
“These heartless criminals take ruthless steps to exploit the multitude of poor immigrants from Mexico and Central America trying to reach the United States at any cost, and the problem is getting worse,” Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla, Jr. said in a written statement obtained previously by Breitbart Texas. “No one wants to see their loved ones being violated or abandoned in this manner.”