Hundreds of Illegal Immigrants Rescued from Trucks in S. Texas This Year

The arrest of the trucker and the immigrant smuggler in the San Antonio case has apparently done little to deter the use of 18-wheelers to smuggle illegal immigrants into the U.S., News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The Border Patrol in Laredo says 448 illegals were rescued from big rigs in South Texas just in January and February of this year, many on the exact same path as the 10 immigrants who died in the back of James Bradley's sweltering 18 wheeler in a south side parking lot last July.

In addition to criminal prosecution and the possibility of life sentences facing the participants in immigrant smuggling, Border Patrol Agent Miguel Contreras says other punishment await truckers who succumb to the lure of cash in exchange for transporting human cargo.

"We try to improve border security by implementing the consequences on commercial drivers who are charged with human or narcotics smuggling," he said.  "Some of those penalties include the revocation of Commercial Drivers Licenses."

He says trucks used in smuggling operations are seized.

But officials say the threat of life in prison is often not enough to stop a trucker from taking easy money, sometimes as much as $2,000 per immigrant, to stuff people in the trailer of their 18 wheeler and transport them where they are going anyway.

And Contreras says the lure of life in the United States overcomes the threat of death in the back of that 18 wheeler for desperate residents of violence plagued places like Honduras.

He says that is the perfect opportunity for criminal gangs to exploit the immigrants, the truckers, and their own associates, in the rush to pocket huge profits.

"We're dealing with transnational criminal organizations," he said.  "They do not value life.  They don't care how they make money."

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