EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. Border Patrol agents rescued 18 migrants crammed inside a U-Haul trailer with little ventilation early Tuesday morning.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said a U-Haul pickup pulling the trailer stopped at the Border Patrol checkpoint on NM Highway 185, which runs parallel to Interstate 25. Agents found 17 migrant adults and one unaccompanied child inside the trailer.
Agents linked the smuggling scheme to a driver who had crossed the checkpoint minutes before the U-Haul and was found to have a 9 mm handgun, an AK-47 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, and a flare gun.
Agents arrested both drivers on suspicion of conspiracy to transport migrants.
On Sunday, a resident alerted border agents to a possible human smuggling scheme after spotting a tractor-trailer parked along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near the Texas-New Mexico state line in Northeast El Paso.
Agents responded and freed 15 adult migrants and one unaccompanied child inside a poorly ventilated cargo container.
The rescued migrants, agents said, were from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Some of them ended up at the Central Processing Center, and agents expelled the others to Mexico under Title 42.
According to a news release, agents referred the driver to the El Paso Sector Integrated Targeting Team and the Texas Department of Public Safety as part of an ongoing interagency investigation.
CBP said that since Fiscal Year 2022 began in October, Border Patrol agents from the El Paso Sector have disrupted approximately 525 smuggling schemes.
“Ruthless human smugglers continuously endanger human lives as one of their tactics is to smuggle migrants in confined spaces with restricted oxygen,” El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of the actions of our El Paso Sector Border Patrol Agents as they often encounter situations, where if not for their involvement, events as these would turn into tragedies. Our Border Patrol Agents are true heroes as they display compassion and professionalism (every day) in our very complex mission of border security.”