ICE Uses Edinburg Tractor Trailer Rescue to Condemn Sanctuary Cities
EDINBURG – ICE released a statement Monday afternoon condemning sanctuary cities.
The announcement was made following a deadly tractor trailer incident in San Antonio late last month.
Thomas D. Homan, acting director of ICE, announced three more similar incidents arose in the past weeks.
"In just a few weeks since the tragedy in San Antonio that claimed the lives of 10 aliens during their transport in a tractor trailer by a criminal smuggling operation, we've seen three more of these cases in the same area. While additional loss of life has been avoided thus far, these cases underscore the urgent need to remove pull factors like sanctuary policies that only perpetuate the vicious human smuggling cycle. We will not let up in our efforts to disrupt and dismantle the illicit pathways used by transnational criminal organizations and human smuggling facilitators.”
One of the cases referenced in the statement happened in Edinburg on Sunday.
Police rescued 17 people who were in the country illegally from a hot tractor trailer at the Flying J truck stop on Highway 281 in Edinburg.
The foreign nationals found inside the truck were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Romania.
Edinburg Police received a call from a concerned relative of one of the Mexican nationals in the truck and rescued them shortly after. Border Patrol was also called in immediately.
Coraggio Transport is advertised on the side of the truck.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS found out that the company is a small business run out of Miami, Florida. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, they only have two trucks. They're authorized to transport general freight and fresh produce.
Isael Armas, owner of Coraggio Transport, told CHANNEL 5 NEWS by phone that this is the first time one of his vehicles has been involved in human smuggling.
"The truck is mine. I'm the owner. I don't have much information about this. This was a total surprise," he said.
Armas said the cargo inside the trailer was $20,000 worth of mangoes.
"I'm worried because the merchandise inside the truck needs attention because it could go rotten and it's worth a lot of money," he said.
Armas said the driver of the truck spent the night at Flying J Saturday. His wife was with him.
The driver told Armas Sunday morning the truck had a flat tire that needed to be fixed.
"The police told me that the undocumented were inside the truck since 4 a.m., which means at 10a.m, the time I talked to him, they had six hours inside," he said. "And my driver said he didn't know anything about that."
Armas said he hasn't heard from his driver or the driver's wife since police found people in his truck.
"They have detained the driver, his wife, my truck, the trailer and the merchandise. They have all that detained," he said.
Armas stands by his driver. He believes the driver did nothing wrong.
"Somebody put those people inside the truck. We don't feel any responsibility for that," he said.
Nobody inside the truck received medical attention.
Homeland Security Investigations is in charge of the case. So far, they say no one is charged with any crime and no one is in custody.
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