Texas police and Border Patrol say that they recently discovered dozens of people concealed inside a dump truck’s hidden compartment.
The discovery was made on January 30 in south Laredo, Texas, after a tow truck was called to assist a disabled dump truck around 7:30 a.m.
Following the tow call, Laredo police received a tip that there were humans concealed inside the dump truck.
When officers arrived at the impound lot where the dump truck was stored, they reportedly heard banging and discovered a compartment made from plywood in the dump trailer hidden under dirt, sand, and gravel.
After removing some of the material from the trailer with a backhoe, rescuers were able to free 36 people hidden inside the compartment. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that the people inside the compartment had “no means of escape.”
The rescued immigrants were placed in the custody of Homeland Security.
Police also arrested the driver of the truck, 62 year old Ruben Plata. According to the Laredo Morning Times, Plata was wanted in connection with a homicide case that occurred in the 1980s in Brownsville in addition to any human smuggling charges he could face.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commission Mark Morgan commented, “Make no mistake – the criminal organizations and cartels have no concern for the wellbeing of the people they smuggle across the border.”
The incident remains under investigation.