Border patrol warns truckers to be on lookout for stowaways

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 5/3/2013

A truck driver was detained for more than three hours this past week after stowaways were found hiding in his air fairing. Now, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is warning all truckers who stop in border towns to be on the lookout for those looking to hitch a ride.

CBP Agent Efrain Perez, public affairs liaison, told Land Line on Friday, May 3, the agency is trying to provide awareness to the trucking community of the growing trend where undocumented immigrants are hiding in truckers’ air fairings or hiding in small spaces underneath their trailers.

“This is a tactic we are seeing more and more,” Perez said. “It’s not only happening; it’s also very dangerous. These smugglers are going to exploit everything they possibly can to make sure they bring the undocumented immigrants in. It’s a cash flow for them.”

Perez said that some stowaways, who have been discovered hiding on truckers’ rigs during routine inspections at the north border check point in Laredo, TX, have needed medical attention for dehydration after temperatures reached more than 100 degrees.

Truck driver Joe Geeting of Rockford, IL, was detained for more than three hours on Monday, April 29, after two stowaways were found hiding in his air fairing. He was eventually released after the CBP realized he wasn’t involved in human trafficking, but not before he was handcuffed, and his tractor-trailer, load and possessions were seized. Geeting said he stopped for about 10 minutes at a Pilot in Laredo, which is when the stowaways must have crawled up on top of his tractor. CBP agents discovered a handprint near the top of his tractor, which led to their discovery.

“There are those unfortunate circumstances where the drivers are exploited and they don’t know what’s going on, so we are trying to give them some awareness of the dangers,” Perez said. “Before they leave any stops near border towns, look for scuff marks on the wind jammers, that type of thing or check to see if their (trailer) seals have been tampered with.”

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