1 Person in Custody After Mysterious 911 Call Sparks Search for Migrants Trapped in Tanker Truck: Report
U.S. officials in January encountered nearly 78,000 migrants who attempted to cross the southern border without authorization or who were denied at ports of entry, a 6% increase over the previous month.
One person has been taken into federal custody in connection with an alleged human trafficking operation after a chilling 911 call came in from Texas, officials said. The person who called 911 said he was one of 80 people allegedly trapped inside a tanker trunk, a vehicle usually used to transport hazardous liquids or gases, near San Antonio, Texas, the Associated Press reported.
The caller said the immigrants in the truck were barely able to breath near San Antonio, the AP wrote.
“We don’t see anything. We’re inside a truck. God, we don’t have oxygen,” the man told the dispatcher in Spanish, NBC News reported.
The man said he was near the highway and he could hear cars, but could not say who was driving them.
“No, we don’t know who. Help!,” said the caller.
Others could be heard yelling and gasping for air before the call was lost.
The Feb.8 call came into the San Antonio Police Department and Bexar County Sheriffs Department. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar described the call as “heartbreaking,” and said that the caller suggested that other people in the truck may have already died, NBC reported.
Salazar said instances of human trafficking happen thousands of times a day nationwide, and traffickers “herd these people like cattle.” In this instance, he told NBC News, “we were able to get a glimpse because this gentleman was able to place a call.”
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Officer, Homeland Security, DPS and the San Antonio Police Department launched a massive search for the truck. Surveillance images initially showed a tank trunk in the San Antonio area, but the truck may have been found empty in Laredo, NBC reported.
ICE's Homeland Security Investigations unit in San Antonio have since taken over, according to a report.
“We will continue to address the serious public safety threat posed by human smuggling organizations and their reckless disregard for the health and safety of those smuggled,” the agency said in a statement, noting that the investigation is still ongoing.
Details about the individual, including the person's name and alleged role in the "suspected human smuggling event," have not been released, NBC reported.
Arrests of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border saw an increase after a sharp drop at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, NBC reported. U.S. officials in January encountered nearly 78,000 migrants who attempted to cross the southern border without authorization or who were denied at ports of entry, a 6% increase over the previous month.
Anyone with information related to the crime is asked to call 1-866-DHS-2ICE, the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or text “Help” or “Info” to 233733.
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