EAGLE PASS, Texas — A potential tragedy was averted in the small border city of Eagle Pass, Texas, when Maverick County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped a tractor-trailer on Thursday. After noting suspicious behavior by the truck driver and noises coming from the trailer, the deputies searched the pneumatic tank trailer being towed by the driver and located 18 migrants sealed inside.
According to a source within CBP, not authorized to speak to the media, federal authorities were summoned to investigate and ultimately charged the driver, a 46-year-old Texas man, with migrant smuggling. The case is currently under investigation by ICE Homeland Security Investigation (HSI). The driver faces an enhanced penalty of up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the offense due to the endangerment of those sealed in the airtight container.
The source told Breitbart Texas the case could have had a tragic outcome. In addition to the dangers of suffocation being transported in a sealed container, the record-breaking heat in Texas could have easily resulted in the loss of life for those trapped inside the trailer, according to the source.
Temperatures in the region have exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two consecutive weeks. Within the Del Rio Sector, according to the Border Patrol, ten migrants have died in the last seven days due to heat-related illnesses. During the same seven-day timeframe, more than 7,000 migrants were apprehended attempting to enter the United States. Most of the apprehensions occurred in Eagle Pass, making it one of the busiest crossing points in Texas.
The arrest comes almost one year to the day from a similar migrant smuggling event that resulted in the death of 53 migrants who were abandoned in a sealed semi-tractor trailer in San Antonio. In that case, police near the city initially discovered 48 migrants dead at the arrest scene and 16 others who required advanced medical care due to heat-related illness.
Five of those transported to area hospitals ultimately died from their injuries within days of the discovery.
Had the migrants not been discovered close to the border on Thursday, the source says the same fate may have also awaited them.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.