More Mexican immigrants found in a tractor-trailer

| 8/26/2002

U.S. Border Patrol agents in Texas Aug. 21 seized a tractor-trailer smuggling undocumented immigrants. This discovery pushes the number of tractor-trailer smuggling cases in the McAllen Border Patrol sector to 42 since Oct. 1, 2001, involving 699 immigrants.

Federal agents discovered 21 immigrants early Wednesday morning at the Falfurrias checkpoint, about 100 miles north of Brownsville. A border patrol dog alerted agents to something in the trailer. As agents conducted a secondary inspection, 21 immigrants, including three women, were found behind a stack of pallets.

None of the immigrants reportedly required any medical attention. "They were all found to be in good health," said Agent Xavier Rios, a border patrol spokesman. "There is no ventilation in the trailer and there was no source of water in the trailer."

Agents arrested Ruperto G. Gomez Jr. of McAllen, TX, in connection with transporting undocumented immigrants. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each smuggled immigrant.

In other recent discoveries, 73 men, women and children were discovered Aug. 5 in a reefer packed with rotting watermelons as it attempted to pass through the Sarita, TX, checkpoint. The truck's driver, whose name has not been released, was charged with federal immigration smuggling violations.

On July 27, more than 40 immigrants were found in the back of a sweltering truck at a Dallas truckstop. Two of the immigrants died of heatstroke. Two El Paso truckers, Troy Dock and Jason Sprague, face state murder charges and federal smuggling charges. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

On July 31, agents detained about 32 undocumented immigrants at a San Antonio Petro inside a locked trailer with a broken refrigeration unit. About 40 to 70 other people escaped when agents opened the trailer. The driver, Antonio Deloza of Laredo, was charged with federal immigration smuggling violations.