Call leads to discovery of 86 immigrants in semi truck

May 24, 2018 GMT

An 18-wheeler filled with nearly 100 undocumented immigrants was stopped by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers because someone called in a tip about the human cargo.

During a news conference this afternoon, U.S. Border Patrol and DPS officials said a concerned citizen called about the possible smuggling operation inside the 18-wheeler.

Once DPS indentified the tractor-trailer DPS stopped the truck on the expressway in Raymondville Tuesday night. Inside they discovered 86 immigrants.

“Operation Big Rig is a call for action to be taken by anyone who witnesses illicit activity, specifically involving tractor-trailers,” said Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla, Jr. in a news release. “This incident demonstrates precisely what should be done to prevent what could be a deadly situation.”

Officials say some of the immigrants got out of the trailer through an opening in the roof. Photographs taken by the Raymondville Police Department drone show dozens of people sitting and standing on top of the trailer.

The entire area was surrounded by DPS troopers, Border Patrol agents, Willacy County sheriff’s deputies and Raymondville police. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter was also called in, as well as BORSTAR agents and EMS crews.

The immigrants were from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Nicaragua.


1:30 p.m.

The U.S. Border Patrol now says there were 86 undocumented immigrants inside a semi rig stopped in Willacy County Tuesday night.

Sheriff Larry Spence said he did not immediately know why the truck was pulled over, but the Texas Department of Public Safety confirms it stopped the truck in Raymondville.

The Willacy County Sheriff’s Office, Raymondville police, Border Patrol and EMS was at the scene.

Drone photos taken by the Raymondville Police Department show the immigrants sitting on top of the truck and on the pavement. The tractor-trailer rig was surrounded by DPS troopers and other officers.

The Border Patrol will hold a joint news conference this afternoon with DPS about the traffic stop and apprehension of the immigrants.

Emergency medical services in the county put out a call for support from Cameron County to help check out the health of the people in the truck, “to be on the safe side,” Spence said.

He said he did not have any immediate reports of anyone being injured.

The truck was pulled over on I-69E at FM 3168, causing traffic to be routed around the truck. Spence said he got the call about 11 p.m.