Smuggling Attempt Shows Cracks In National Security

The deadliest migrant smuggling attempt in modern history, which ended this week in San Antonio, is revealing cracks in the nation's border security system that could have saved lives, WOAI's Michael Board reports.

The big rig breezed right through a border security checkpoint on Interstate-35, despite having an estimated 100 people in the trailer, according to Congressman Henry Cuellar.

He says it's outrageous that the smuggling attempt, which ended with 51 people dead, did not raise any red flags.

"Apparently, they did not find the folks there, through the check point. But, keep in mind, the Border Patrol is overworked. Most of the manpower for the Border Patrol are in tent processing and caring for migrants," he tells WOAI news.

The Laredo checkpoint is about 30-miles north of Laredo, where these undocumented migrants were loaded earlier this week. It's one of the busiest checkpoints in the nation. So many trucks go through that, if it were a port of entry, it would be the fourth busiest.

There have been reports that the migrants were covered in steak seasoning spices, as a way to avoid detection.

A source close to the situation, who was not authorized to speak to the media, says the truck full of migrants crossed through the checkpoint during a Border Patrol shift change.

Congressman Cuellar says he's brought that security lapse up with the head of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, in a phone call this week.

"I told the secretary that we need to put resources on the checkpoint," he says. "I've been asking for more funding for checkpoints, especially the ones that deal with a lot of commercial traffic."

This is the second time in five years that a deadly smuggling attempt was not caught at the Laredo checkpoint. In 2017, a similar incident happened in San Antonio, where a truck carrying immigrants stopped in San Antonio. In that case, ten migrants died from heat exhaustion.

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