Laredo Sector Border Patrol agents disrupted two human smuggling attempts at an interior immigration checkpoint during a 24-hour period. The smugglers packed 33 migrants into the cargo area of two tractor-trailers.
Laredo North Station agents assigned to the Interstate 35 immigration checkpoint on the afternoon of June 5 observed a red tractor pulling a white trailer approaching for inspection. During an initial immigration interview with the driver, a K-9 alerted to the possible presence of drug or human cargo in the trailer, according to information obtained from Laredo Sector Border Patrol officials.
The agents referred the driver to a secondary inspection station where a physical search of the trailer revealed 17 people locked inside with no means of escape in the event of a crash or abandonment by the human smugglers. Border Patrol officials identified the 17 migrants as having come to the United States from Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
The agents arrested the driver, a U.S. citizen, on human smuggling charges and turned them over to Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation. Officials turned the tractor over to the Webb County Sheriff’s Office as the rig had been reported stolen.
Less than 24 hours later, another red tractor hauling a white trailer approached the same checkpoint for inspection. A non-intrusive scan of the trailer revealed the presence of several people locked inside. Officials said the driver attempted to flee by driving out of the secondary inspection area. Agents conducted a vehicle stop and gained control of the driver.
A search of the refrigerated trailer revealed 16 people locked inside with no means of escape. Agents identified all 16 as illegal immigrants from Mexico.
The agents arrested the driver and a passenger, both U.S. citizens, and turned them over to Homeland Security Investigations for possible human smuggling charges. All 16 Mexican nationals were placed in custody for immigration violations. The tractor and trailer were seized by Border Patrol officials.
Under Title 42 Coronavirus protection protocols put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 33 migrants will be medically screened and will receive a biometric background investigation that includes a criminal history search. Once cleared, most, if not all, of the illegal immigrants will be quickly returned to Mexico.
“Despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, smugglers continue to endanger the lives of individuals they exploit and the health and safety of our Nation,” Laredo Sector officials said in a written statement. “U.S. Border Patrol agents strive to prevent the flow of illegal immigration and slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face