Nearly 90 aliens were found Tuesday night inside the trailer of an 18-wheeler in south Texas, less than 50 miles from the border with Mexico, authorities said.
The aliens, two of whom were children, were found “packed like sardines” inside the refrigerated trailer, said Frank Torres, emergency medical services manager for Willacy County. It was also carrying several loads of avocados.
Officers with the Texas Department of Public Safety pulled over the truck on Texas Highway 77 near the town of Raymondville, according to media reports.
Torres said Willacy County’s emergency services division received a call about 9 p.m. Tuesday about a child who was in distress. Initial reports indicated that as many as 30 people were inside the trailer, but that number grew to 88, Torres said.
Police had tailed the truck from the border town of Donna, a few miles north of the Rio Grande, after getting reports that it might be carrying illegal aliens, Torres said.
It was not immediately clear who the truck driver was or whether that person would face any charges. It also is unclear which company owned the truck. All have been taken into the custody of immigration officials, Torres said.
Nina Pruneda, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s regional office in San Antonio, confirmed that the agency is investigating “human smuggling involving close to 90 illegal aliens discovered inside a tractor-trailer.”
Although the trailer was refrigerated, two adults were suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration and were taken to hospitals, Torres said.
“I think we were so lucky to get them at the time that we did … With the 90-degree temperatures that we’re having down here in south Texas, they could’ve died in there,” Torres said. “There could’ve been 88 bodies.”