Police in South Texas say a traffic stop turned into a human smuggling case last week when patrol officers discovered 12 individuals illegally in the United States who were crammed into a pickup truck in Falfurrias.
One of them was a Salvadoran national convicted of manslaughter in New Jersey, said police.
Over the weekend, the Falfurrias Police Department posted on Facebook that traffic officers stopped a tan GMC Sierra pickup truck on January 22. Although local law enforcement provided limited details about the matter, they stated that the vehicle drove into an apartment complex where the driver “bailed out” with a passenger. Soon thereafter, officers apprehended these two individuals with the assistance of the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Subsequently, police officers found 12 individuals, all illegally in the U.S., in the vehicle. They were either sitting inside the truck’s cab or on its bed, according to Falfurrias PD. Authorities only described one of them as a male Salvadoran national who was convicted of manslaughter in Essex County, New Jersey. These individuals appeared to be largely male, based on images provided online by the police department in connection with this incident. Officers said they turned over the dozen individuals to agents with the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias.
As part of their on-scene investigation, detectives said they ran a computerized check on the GMC pickup’s vehicle identification number (VIN). It revealed that the truck was stolen about of Pasadena, Texas, which is located more than 280 miles north of Falfurrias. The vehicle’s steering column had been dismantled, suggesting the human traffickers hot-wired the pickup to operate it, based on the police department’s photographs.
Falfurrias, located at the intersections of U.S. Highway 281 and U.S. Highway 285, sits roughly 70 miles north of the Rio Grande River where the Texas border meets with Mexico. This region remains among the heaviest area of alien and narcotics traffic, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The area also has been a hub for human trafficking, as has been reported by Breitbart Border/Cartel Chronicles.
Falfurrias police say the investigation into this apparent case of human smuggling will continue.