Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) uncovered a truck carrying 250 pounds of marijuana and 23 undocumented immigrants on Wednesday in El Paso Texas.
ICE HSI El Paso discovers 23 illegal aliens, 250 lbs of marijuana in tractor-trailer https://t.co/DbHYthGPXg
— ICE (@ICEgov) August 18, 2017
Transporting Illegal Cargo for Financial Gain
This tractor-trailer was stopped around 4 a.m. while traveling on I-10 East near Eastlake in El Paso, Texas. Officials found 116 kilograms (approximately 250 pounds) of marijuana in the trailer, as well as some in the sleeper cabin.
El Paso Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), which includes U.S. Border Patrol agents, did not take long to assess the scene and act accordingly.
Comothial Harper, a 44-year-old U.S. Citizen from Bainbridge, Georgia, was the driver of the tractor-trailer.
Comothial Harper, a 44-year-old U.S. Citizen from Bainbridge, Georgia, was the driver of the tractor-trailer. He, along with passenger Gerardox, 35, were arrested on the scene.
Harper was charged with transporting illegal aliens for financial gain, and Aguilar-Roque was charged with the possession with the intent to distribute marijuana.
Special agents found 19 adult males, 2 juvenile males, and 2 adult women in the tractor-trailer that also hauled 250 pounds of marijuana.
Waldemar Rodriguez, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso told the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), “The people inside the trailer had a long trip ahead of them, and nothing assures us they would have arrived at their destination alive. HSI and its law enforcement partners will continue to work tirelessly to dismantle human smuggling networks operating on the border.”
The immigrants – from Guatemala and Mexico – appeared to be in good health, none required medical attention at the scene. El Paso Proud reports that the immigrants are being held in custody pending their immigration hearings.
Human Trafficking Linked to Drugs
There has been an increase in human trafficking via tractor trailer in the last month.
The tractor-trailer hauling 250 pounds of marijuana will be the fourth incident of human trafficking in South Texas in the past three weeks.
The most recent case with fatalities was only on August 15, 2017: 17 undocumented immigrants were discovered inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio with no air conditioning or water. Read more here.
Edinburg Police have confirmed 17 immigrants found locked inside of 18 wheeler at Flying J in Edinburg @kgbt pic.twitter.com/xt4xtLL0UJ
— Priscilla Estrada (@PriscillaKGBT) August 13, 2017
Prior to this incident, 10 immigrants died inside of another tractor-trailer on July 23, 2017. The driver of this truck faces the death penalty. This instance was believed to be connected to the Zeta Cartel. Read more here.
JUST IN: A 10th person discovered in a sweltering hot tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, has died, official says https://t.co/uf1RHqnL5A pic.twitter.com/R8BI1IhEue
— CNN (@CNN) July 24, 2017
The Investigation Is Ongoing
The exact details of this case are undetermined; this investigation is being led by HSI with assistance from the U.S. Border Patrol and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.