Laredo Sector Border Patrol agents found nearly 70 migrants locked inside two vacuum tanker trucks in separate incidents. The human smuggling attempts failed when Border Patrol K-9s detected human cargo in the tankers at an immigration checkpoint near Freer, Texas.
Border Patrol agents assigned to the U.S. Highway 59 immigration checkpoint on November 27 observed a vacuum tanker truck approaching for inspection, according to information obtained from Laredo Sector Border Patrol officials. During an initial interview, a Border Patrol K-9 alerted to the possible presence of drug or human cargo coming from the trailer. The agents referred the driver to a secondary inspection station.
A search of the tanker revealed nearly 30 migrants locked inside with no means of escape in the event of a crash or abandonment by the human smuggler. Agents identified the migrants as citizens of Mexico and El Salvador, officials reported.
Three days later, a second vacuum tanker truck approached the same immigration checkpoint on U.S. Highway 59. Again, a Border Patrol K-9 alerted to an odor it is trained to detect. The agents referred the driver to a secondary inspection area.
During a physical search of the tanker, the agents found nearly 40 migrants locked inside. Agents identified these migrants as citizens of Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.
The agents arrested the nearly 70 migrants and both drivers. The agents identified the drivers as U.S. citizens. Border Patrol officials seized both tankers.
Human smugglers frequently utilize the dangerous tactic of locking migrants in the trailers of 19-wheelers and box trucks. This method of smuggling human cargo leaves the migrants in dangerous conditions and with no means of escape.
“Despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and even with low temperatures, human smugglers continue to show little or no regard for the safety of our Nation and for those that they smuggle into the country through dangerous conditions,” Laredo Sector officials said in a written statement. “It is only through the continued vigilance of U.S. Border Patrol agents that those who might become trapped in cramped space like a vacuum tanker are rescued.”