Border Patrol Agents in N.M. Find Truck with 48 Suspected Illegal Immigrants
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Authorities uncovered a semitrailer containing 48 suspected illegal immigrants outside a highway truck stop, a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman said.
Doug Mosier, spokesman for the Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas, said the truck's driver, who was not identified, has not been charged, but authorities are treating the discovery as an alien smuggling case.
Authorities were told that the semitrailer was outside the truck stop about 7 miles (11 kilometers) east of the Las Cruces traffic checkpoint on Interstate 10 on Saturday night.
Border Patrol agents, Las Cruces police and state police found 42 men in the back of the truck and seven women in the sleeper above the cab, Mosier said. Forty-four immigrants are from Mexico and four came from Brazil, he said.
None of the immigrants needed medical attention, Mosier said.
When Border Patrol agents first opened the truck, four men jumped out and fled into the desert. They were found within an hour.
"This type of smuggling has periodically led to tragic drama because of its unforgiving nature," Mosier said. "We see these types of smuggling cases from time to time, but you never get used to the exploitation."
The driver had $22,000 (euro17,162) with him, Mosier said.
The immigrants were being processed at Border Patrol offices in Las Cruces before being sent home. Some may be held in the United States for further questioning, he said.
In the nation's worst smuggling case, 19 immigrants out of a group of more than 70 who had been locked in the back of a semitrailer died in May 2003 of dehydration, suffocation and overheating after the driver abandoned the truck in Texas. The driver, a Jamaican citizen, was found guilty of 38 counts of transporting illegal aliens and faces a possible life sentence.
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