LAREDO, Texas – U.S. Border Patrol agents manning the Interstate Highway 35 (I-35) checkpoint north of Laredo encountered two human smuggling cases within hours of each other that were found to be linked.
The first incident occurred in the late afternoon of October 8, when a van with company logos approached the I-35 primary inspection lane and was referred to secondary inspection following a Service canine alert. In secondary, agents discovered 16 individuals hidden inside an aftermarket compartment located behind the cab of the vehicle. The individuals were medically screened and provided personal protective equipment (PPE). They were determined to be illegally in the United States from the countries of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Ecuador. They were all taken into custody along with the U.S. citizen driver. Two of the smuggled individuals, a married couple from Honduras, reported that they had been separated from their minor son by the smugglers. They provided a detailed description of the child to the agents.
About two hours later, a minivan approached the I-35 primary inspection lane. The astute agent in primary recognized that one of the passengers matched the description given of the child in the earlier case. The driver of the minivan claimed the child was hers, but her claim was refuted by the child’s actual parents who provided documented proof. The child, who was also in the country illegally from Honduras, was reunited with his parents. The driver of the minivan, a U.S. citizen, was arrested.
The two U.S. citizen drivers were turned over to Special Agents of Homeland Security Investigations and both vehicles were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.
These two cases are examples of the lack of concern human smugglers have for the people they exploit for profit. Smugglers not only transport large groups without PPE in confined spaces, exposing them and our communities to possible COVID-19 infection, but they are also willing to separate a child from his parents.
Laredo Sector agents remain vigilant and committed to the mission of the agency to protect the American people by safeguarding our borders and enhancing the Nation’s economic prosperity.
To report suspicious activity such as alien and/or drug smuggling, download the “USBP Laredo Sector” App or contact the Laredo Sector Border Patrol toll free at 1-800-343-1994. If you see something, please say something. You can also follow us on our social media platforms on Twitter and Instagram @usbpchieflrt and @usbpdepchieflrt and on Facebook at US Border Patrol Laredo Sector.