Trucker detained at border after stowaways found in air fairing

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 5/1/2013

A routine inspection at the north border inspection station in Laredo, TX, turned into a three-hour nightmare for one trucker after two stowaways were found hiding in the air fairing on his tractor.

Truck driver Joe Geeting of Rockford, IL, who drives for Altendorf Trucking of Minto, ND, told Land Line on Wednesday that he had pulled into the inspection station on Monday, April 29, when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection – CBP – agent spotted a handprint near the air fairing on his 2011 Volvo and asked him to drive to a secondary inspection station for further review.

Hiding in the air fairing were two undocumented immigrants, Geeting said. After discovering the two men, he said, CBP agents seized his tractor-trailer, his load and all of his personal belongings, then handcuffed him. He said he waited in a holding cell for at least three hours and was questioned by two agents before being released.

“They held me for about three hours to make sure I wasn’t in on it, questioned me and the whole deal,” Geeting said.

He said the stowaways must have crawled inside his air fairing, which is less than a 3-foot space, when he stopped a while earlier at the Pilot in Laredo to get his load weighed and buy fuel.

“In the 10 minutes of leaving my truck alone, they crawled up in there and I didn’t know they were there,” Geeting said. “The way they (CBP agents) caught them was my truck was kind of dirty, dusty from being in a dusty parking lot and they left a hand print way up high on the fairing.”

Once he was released, he said one CBP agent told him that undocumented immigrants are searching for more creative places to hide, instead of in trailers.

“The inspector said they are watching for trucks that have big fairings,” Geeting said. “Most of them are condos now, so they have real tall sleepers. They are watching them, they take a look to see if there are any scuff marks…”

After being released, Geeting said he stopped for the night, but not before he did an immediate walk-around his tractor-trailer, making sure his seal was still intact and adding a padlock on the doors.

“I was really creeped out by the idea that there were guys riding on the roof above where I sleep,” he said. “The next morning, I got up and checked every crevice, anything I could find.”

The CBP did not respond to Land Line’s request for an interview.

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