- Other Apps
by Ashly Custer - Posted: 04.03.2015 at 7:08 PM
U.S. Border Patrol is asking for the public's help to combat a new and dangerous method unauthorized immigrants are using to get past checkpoints undetected.
“Falfurrias checkpoint is one of the busiest checkpoints in the country with regard to seizures and apprehensions,” said Omar Zamora, the spokesperson for Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector. “In addition to that we also inspect more than 8,000 vehicles per day.”
So far this year, the Border Patrol apprehended more than 7,000 immigrants suspected of being in the U.S. illegally at the Falfurrias checkpoint.
Agents are seeing more take bold and dangerous measures to travel undetected through checkpoints.
"We don’t want anybody to die or get hurt or seriously injured," Zamora said.
Over the last couple days, there were five incidents where agents found people stashed away in the small upper air flow compartment of big rig trucks.
"I believe Tuesday (March) 31st, we had a group of seven immigrants which is quite a few illegal immigrants to be hiding in the back of some of these air dams. We've seen another four cases since then here at this checkpoint," said Zamora.
Zamora explained they're starting to average two to three of the cases every day.
The agency has cameras placed several feet off the ground to help detect any illegal activity in an effort to combat the problem.
Zamora believes the majority of immigrants are camped out at local area trucks stops waiting for an unsuspecting truck driver.
"In many cases (truck drivers) may not know anything about it, but what they can do and what we’re asking them to do is check. It will only take a couple minutes," Zamora said.
Border Patrol and the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office are requesting truck drivers check the air flow vents for people hiding inside.
Whether or not the driver is aware of immigrants hiding out, the driver will get cited.
"When I got to the checkpoint, they told me I had two people up there, and I didn’t know about it. I was so shocked. I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know anything about it."
Action 4 News spoke with a local truck driver, who we call “Sam” due to the driver wanting his identify concealed.
Sam did not want to be identified because he now has a smear on his record.
"Now, when I go to Mexico with my passport, they check me. They put me there like I'm a criminal or something. They check my record and stuff," Sam said.
It’s why Sam now always locks up and checks to ensure he has no surprise passengers on board.
"If the driver is in on it (then) yes, lock him up and do what you got to do, but if he has no intention of doing anything like that I can’t see you citing him for it," said truck driver Walter Patrick.
Anyone can report any suspicious activity they may see to 1-800-BE ALERT.
The gall of these people never ceases to amaze me!
Just a word of warning to you truck drivers out there. Check for stowaways before returning from Sur de la Frontera (South of the Border). The Border Patrol will hold you responsible whether you knew about it or not. Their attitude is as a truck driver, you are just as responsible for your rig as the captain is of a ship, and you should check it out before leaving Mexico.
Practically speaking, it is a good idea. After all, nowadays, you may be carrying more than you bargained for. That goes for large cars and pickups too. One or two could get up under your vehicle, hang on until you stop at a light or something, then drop down and run like hell.
It's the duty of every citizen to be vigilant. The Border Patrol can't be everywhere, and they do miss things. We have to help by taking responsibility for our own vehicles and taking a few minutes to check them out before we get back on the road north.