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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
02/15/2008

85 illegal aliens discovered hidden inside 4 separate tractor trailers

Most of the aliens had been locked inside the trailers with no means of escape

LAREDO, Texas - Eighty-five illegal aliens were arrested here Thursday night as they were being smuggled into the United States hidden inside four tractor trailers. The four groups of smuggling-load arrests were made jointly by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Border Patrol, Laredo Sector.

According to ICE and CBP, these four stops occurred within a five-hour time span as the trucks were entering the United States from Mexico. During CBP's routine inspection, agents either noticed suspicious activity coming from inside the trailers, or they were alerted by on-site canines on duty. Each of the truck drivers was then referred to secondary inspection.

The first group of 15 Mexicans was discovered at about 7 p.m. hiding inside the cab's sleeper compartment. At about 8:30 p.m. a second group of 12 Mexicans and three Guatemalans was also found hiding in a tractor trailer's sleeper cab. Just before 11 p.m. another tractor trailer was stopped, and 32 illegal aliens were discovered in the locked trailer with no means of escape. The last truck was stopped just a few minutes later, and 20 Mexicans, two Hondurans, and a Salvadoran were found also locked in the trailer. All those discovered inside the trailers appeared to be in good health; they declined medical attention.

Charges are pending against the four truck drivers that attempted to illegally smuggle these individuals. On Tuesday, all four drivers will appear before a federal magistrate to be formally charged.

"This criminal activity clearly re-emphasizes the fact that human smugglers have no regard for human life," said Jerry Robinette, special agent-in-charge for the ICE Office of Investigations in San Antonio. "ICE will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who blatantly disregard the laws of this nation. "Targeting these smuggling organizations is critical to securing our borders and ensuring compliance with our immigration and customs laws."

This is an ongoing investigation.