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Texas Sheriff arrests truck driver on human smuggling charges after 57 migrants are discovered in tractor-trailer

January 24, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Texas Sheriff arrests truck driver on human smuggling charges after 57 migrants are discovered in tractor-trailer

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A sheriff in Texas ordered the arrest of a driver of an 18-wheeler on human smuggling charges after he was busted illegally smuggling 57 migrants from the Rio Grande Valley.

Border Patrol agents discovered the human cargo placed in the back of a locked tractor-trailer at an inspection point located 80 miles from the Mexican border.

Agents working at the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint found 57 migrants locked in the trailer of the 18-wheeler. After federal officials refused to prosecute the smuggler, Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez directed his deputies to arrest the suspect on state charges of human smuggling.

“This is too big a case to let slide,” Sheriff Martinez said to Breitbart Texas. “Fifty-seven people crammed in tan 18-wheeler. This is how people get killed.”

Martinez said the driver insisted that he did not know the migrants were in the back of his trailer. However, information revealed that the trailer was locked from the outside.

The suspect allegedly claimed that he was asked to transport a load of cargo through the checkpoint to Houston without any knowledge of what was inside.

“It is highly the driver did not know they were back there,” the sheriff said. “The load would have been light as there were just a couple of pallets of produce. The rest of the truck contained the migrants.”

Martinez added that the driver said he was told to deliver the trailer to Houston and then contact a number to let them know he dropped off the load.

On Monday, Martinez was informed that special agents from Homeland Security Investigations would be coming to interview the suspect.

It is not clear if the government shutdown played a part in the initial decision by federal officials not to prosecute the case.

The migrants have been screened by Border Patrol agents and are currently detained.

The driver in custody at the Brooks County jail pending a hearing before a district court judge on charges relating to human smuggling. The suspect has been identified as 38-year-old Ramiro Ibis Garza-Ceja, a Mexican national who is legally in the U.S.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the state’s human smuggling law into effect in 2015. House Bill 10, written by Rep. Senfronia Thompson and sponsored in the Senate by Senator Joan Huffman, “toughens and helps Texas crackdown on the horrific crime of human trafficking,” the Governor said when the bill was being signed.

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