human smuggling

Spike in Human Smuggling Leads Border Patrol to Ask for Help

By Peek & Toland on June 5, 2018

More people cross the Texas-Mexico border than anywhere else in the country and human smuggling remains a major concern. Recently, a spike in human smuggling operations led border patrol to request help.

A recent report on the Corpus Christi-based KRISTV.com noted a new initiative by the Department of Homeland Security that aims to target human smuggling in big trucks.

The initiative is called Operation Big Rig and it’s meant to save lives.

Some of the big trucks that ply their trade between Mexico and Texas, don’t carry legitimate cargo, according to federal authorities.

Spike in human smuggling

Spike in human smuggling is recorded in Texas in 2017

Operations uncovered human cargoes in some trucks. In late 2017, Border Patrol discovered 26 undocumented immigrants inside a tractor-trailer at the Falfurrias checkpoint.

They were rescued unharmed. Others were not so lucky. In the summer, 10 migrants died in a sweltering truck in San Antonio. A further 30 were treated for extreme dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Survivors of that trip said as many as 100 people may have been sandwiched in the back of the 18-wheeler at one point in the journey.

Border Patrol agents say they encounter similar smuggling situations all the time, reported KRISTV, raising fears of a spike in human smuggling in the border areas. The rise come despite extremely high federal sanctions for human smuggling, even for minor players in the operation.

Commander Manuel Padilla, Chief Patrol Agent for the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector told the TV station:

“We have case after case. Immigration is one thing. The loss of life, the exploitation of people, is a totally different matter.”

Border Patrol officers say they rescued in excess of 600 people from tractor-trailers. This was an increase from 2016 and came despite federal policies to make America less welcoming to undocumented immigrants.

In the 2018 fiscal year, which started in October, 97 people have were rescued from tractor trailers by the end of November

Border Patrol say they are fighting more sophisticated methods by the transnational criminal organizations which are using new technology to increase their operations.

It forces Border Patrol to continually update their enforcement strategies and makes putting a stop to human smuggling more difficult.

Border patrol officers hope the public can help them fight the spike in human smuggling. As part of Operation Big Rig, they encourage the general public to look out for suspicious activity on the highways and report evidence of human smuggling.

If you have been charged with a serious criminal offense in Austin, Round Rock, San Antonio, Laredo or elsewhere, please call our experienced criminal defense lawyers at (512) 474-4445.


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Migrant Deaths in Texas Truck Highlights Human Smuggling Crisis

By Peek & Toland on October 14, 2017

The death of 10 migrants in a sweltering truck in San Antonio this summer once again highlighted the human smuggling crisis in areas close to the Mexican border.

As many as 90 people were crammed into the back of a tractor-trailer, reported the New York Post.

Tragically, the deaths of migrants in trucks is not a rare occurrence in the border states.

Indeed as more Mexican-based organized crime rings become involved in human smuggling, the problem may become more serious.

Eddie Canales, director of the South Texas Human Rights Center in Falfurrias, told USA Today large numbers of migrants are coming to grief in border areas.

Texas has a human smuggling crisis

Migrant deaths highlighted the human smuggling crisis

They die from dehydration making their way across the arid landscape of South Texas, drown crossing the Rio Grande River and are left to die by heartless smugglers, Canales said.

According to the USA Today report, the authorities recovered the bodies of over 600 immigrants in Brooks County alone in South Texas since 2004.

Canales’s organization documents and searches for migrants reported missing. Canales found the body of a male migrant about 160 miles south of the Walmart parking lot where the migrants were found on the same day in July.

Canales said many of these grim discoveries don’t even make the headlines.

The deaths in the tractor-trailer again highlight the human smuggling crisis. The criminal organizations that profit from human smuggling are often unscrupulous about the welfare of migrants.

As well as the 10 people who died in the truck, a further 20 were taken to San Antonio area hospitals for treatment of extreme dehydration and heatstroke. One survivor said as many as 200 people were crammed into the trailer during the sweltering 150-mile journey from Laredo to San Antonio.

Federal officials later charged the truck driver, James M. Bradley, Jr., 60, of Clearwater, in Florida under a federal law targeted at people who knowingly transport people in the country illegally. He claimed he had no knowledge migrants were in the trailer.

USA Today reported Bradley faces life sentences or even the death penalty, although executions are rare in federal cases. The death penalty was later ruled out.

The Associated Press reported the trucker had his license to drive commercial trucks taken away from him earlier this year. The State of Florida removed his commercial driving privileges on April 12. The report noted he failed to provide the state with a current medical card, which is required under federal law for commercial drivers to show they are physically fit for the road.

The worst migrant tragedy in recent years occurred in 2013 in Texas. A dairy-truck driver carried migrants to Houston, but forgot to turn on the air-conditioning unit. The temperatures soared to 173 degrees. Nineteen migrants died of dehydration and suffocation.

This is a very serious offense that’s prosecuted at a federal level. In some cases, people may be coerced into these activities against their will. Read more about human smuggling on our website or call (512) 474-4445.

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