What started as a routine traffic stop for a refrigerated commercial tractor trailer ended up as a hefty illegal immigrant bust on July 29, according to a press release from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer stopped the trailer for an equipment violation after getting a tip, perhaps ironically, from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol.
The DPS officer pulled over the truck on Interstate 19 at kilometer 24, north of Nogales, to take the driver into custody on a misdemeanor warrant.
He then peeked in the back of the truck.
In addition to a load of produce chilling out in the 34-degree temperature, he found 97 illegal immigrants. They included adults and children, the latter ranging in age from 9 to 12.
The produce type was not specified but photos of the empty truck show chewed up watermelon rinds along with water jugs and bottles, a mere 2 degrees above freezing.
The aliens, who were found to be from both Mexico and Guatemala, were taken to the Nogales Border Patrol station where they will be processed and returned to their native countries.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are coordinating the investigation into the smuggling scheme.
“This is yet another frightening example of the callous disregard human smugglers have for those who entrust their lives to them,” said Matthew Allen, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Arizona.
“These people were treated like cargo. They were crammed inside this truck and subjected to near freezing temperatures. Fortunately, due to the swift action of the law enforcement agencies involved in this case, none of these people came to any harm.”
What do you think?
Are you appalled at the precarious situations people put themselves in just to cross the border?
Would you rather be smuggled across the blazing desert or in a freezing tractor trailer?