Police in the Rio Grande Valley rescued 17 illegal aliens whom human smugglers locked in a trailer for hours. The illegal aliens came to the U.S. from Romania, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.
Edinburg Police Assistant Police Chief Oscar Treviño told a local CBS affiliate the human smugglers locked the illegal aliens in the trailer for eight to nine hours. A relative called the police to report the conditions inside the trailer were becoming intolerable due to the heat, Valley Central CBS4 reported.
The emergency call came from a family member in Mexico, officials reported. The caller said their relative was trapped inside a tractor-trailer parked at the Flying J truck stop in Edinburg. When police arrived on the scene, they began a trailer-to-trailer search. They eventually located a trailer where they received a response of people knocking on the walls from inside.
Border Patrol agents assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Sector also responded to the scene and helped in the recovery and identification of the illegal aliens. Officials report they detained two Cuban nationals (male and female) in connection to the human smuggling case.
Police brought water and pizza for the illegal immigrants rescued from the potentially deadly situation.
The incident follows a similar human smuggling attempt that tragically ended in the deaths of 10 illegal aliens smuggled in a trailer found in San Antonio less than a month ago, Breitbart Texas reported. The truck driver, in that case, faces the death penalty if he is convicted on charges related to the smuggling and migrant deaths.
James Matthew Bradley, Jr. told the investigators he was “surprised when he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people” when he opened the rear door. He said he was knocked to the ground as they illegal aliens rushed out of the sweltering heat of the trailer. He reportedly admitted knowing the refrigeration systems did not work and that the vent holes were blocked. He claimed to have called his wife after the aliens escaped. Records show he did not call 911.
The smuggling victims tell a different story.
One of the illegal aliens, a Mexican national, told investigators he paid smugglers $5,500 (USD) as a transportation fee to his final destination — San Antonio, according to court records obtained by Breitbart Texas. He said he paid $11,000 Mexican pesos to Los Zetas-connected cartel members for protection. He paid an additional $1,500 pesos to smugglers who helped him cross the river on a raft. His group of 28 illegal aliens was picked up by a Silverado pickup truck and taken to the trailer. He said they were the last group to join the others already in the trailer.
The smugglers closed the door, locking the illegal aliens inside a pitch black trailer that was already oppressively hot. Smugglers told the aliens they would be transported later that night. They were provided no food or water during the trip, according to the criminal complaint.
At about 9 p.m., a smuggler opened the door and advised them they would be departing soon. They assured the victims the truck would be refrigerated and would be safe. The illegal aliens were given different colored tape to put on their wrists to indicate who would be picked up by what smuggling groups later.
After about an hour into the journey, the alien being interviewed said many people began having difficulty breathing. They began pounding on the wall to get the driver to stop. He never did.
Some of the aliens found a small hole for ventilation. They took turns using the hole to breathe. When the truck eventually stopped, many people fell to the ground, he said, because they were weak.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are investigating the Edinburg case, according to ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda.