U.S. Border Patrol has issued an alert to the public about an uptick in human smuggling using tractor trailers.

On April 23, the U.S. Border Patrol’s El Centro sector located in southern California issued a warning “about a disturbing trend of smugglers attempting to use tractor-trailers to smuggle people.”

The warning comes after agents intercepted a human smuggling attempt on Monday, April 20 — the fourth attempt of this type in four months.

U.S. Border Patrol describes Monday’s human smuggling attempt:

The incident occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m., when agents were conducting surveillance on a white 2012 International Prostar tractor-trailer traveling northbound on Highway 86.  Subsequently, agents followed the tractor-trailer as it approached the Border Patrol immigration checkpoint on Highway 86. 

During inspection, while Border Patrol agents conducted an immigration check on the driver,  a Border Patrol canine detection team alerted to the cab area of the truck. Agents referred the tractor-trailer aside for further inspection.

While in the secondary inspection area, Border Patrol agents observed three people jump out of the truck cab, attempting to abscond.  Agents quickly detained the three subjects that included two adult males and one unaccompanied female juvenile who were determined to be undocumented immigrants.

Authorities say that the 36 year old truck driver, a Mexican national, and three undocumented immigrants from Mexico were arrested and returned to Mexico.

In March, the El Centro sector discovered 42 illegal immigrants “dangerously” packed into a utility trailer near Calexico. Similar human smuggling incidents occurred in February and January, Border Patrol says.

“The increase in tractor-trailer smuggling continues to illustrate the total disregard that smuggling organizations have for the well-being of the people they are smuggling,” said Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino. “Our agents will continue to work tirelessly in protecting the safety and security of all human life.”

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