Monday, December 7, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement concerning two tractor trailers that had been found to contain over 200 smuggled individuals.
Laredo Sector Chief Patrol Agent Matthew Hundak, who was just promoted to the position on September 24, said, "These two cases illustrate the dangerous amount of human smuggling using large commercial vehicles. These vehicles are not made to carry people, butting the aliens at risk of life threatening injury and offer no protection from Covid-19 or other infectious diseases."
The first stop occurred during the mid-evening of December 4 when a tractor-trailer was stopped at a checkpoint west of Freer, Texas. During an inspection of the driver, a U.S. citizen, a Service canine alerted to the trailer.
Upon inspecting the trailer, agents found 138 individuals packed inside. Agents soon determined that they were in the country illegally and originated from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.
All of the individuals and the driver were taken into custody pending further investigation.
The second stop occurred on the evening of December 5 at a checkpoint along I-35.
The release indicates that the driver initially failed to stop at a primary inspection, but eventually complied with agents' commands. A non-intrusive scan of the vehicle revealed "anomalies" in the trailer prompting further inspection.
Inside the trailer agents found 80 individuals hailing from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. They were also all placed under arrest pending further investigation.
The tractor and trailer were seized by U.S. Border Patrol.
All of the 218 individuals were medically evaluated and none required medical attention.
"The men and women of the Laredo Sector remain vigilant as they carry out the U.S. Border Patrol’s mission of protecting the American people, safeguarding our borders, and enhancing the Nation’s economic prosperity," the statement reads.
They ask that anyone with information concerning alien and/or drug smuggling contact them through their "USBP Laredo Sector" app or at their offices by calling (800) 343-1994.
In an unrelated case, Laredo agents located another group of individuals that had entered the country illegally on December 1 near Slaughter Park in south Laredo.
They did not disclose the number of individuals apprehended at that time, but did bring attention to one of the individuals taken into custody.
37-year-old Hector Ibarra-Balderas, a Mexican national, had been convicted of a fourth-degree sexual offense and second-degree assault of a minor in Prince George County, Maryland in 2007. He had been sentenced to six years in prison.
Ibarra-Balderas is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals awaiting prosecution on immigration violations.
“This convicted sexual offender attempted to enter the (United States) near a city park used by children and other residents. The diligence of our agents led to his quick arrest before he was able to enter the Laredo community. Our agents are committed to ensuring the safety of our neighbors here in Laredo and citizens throughout our country,” Hudak said.
“Without properly vetting individuals for admittance, dangerous criminals such as this endanger our communities by showing a lack of regard for our country’s laws,” Border Patrol said in a statement.