Border Patrol Tackle Growing Human Smuggling Trend

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NEAR FALFURRIAS – Desperation leads to dangerous situations for people crossing into the country illegally.

The U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias is busier than usual this time of year.

Once you pass the checkpoint, you may see two unmarked tractor trailers. They were emptied and seized by the agency after foiling a human smuggling attempt.

"The thing that's been most significant lately, that I think we should highlight is the overall increase in tractor-trailer smuggling, across the sector," said Border Patrol Agent in Charge Robert Gilloon, who also oversees the Falfurrias checkpoint.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS wanted to know if there certain times of day when this illegal activity happens.

"All day long, it’s a threat all day 24/7,” he said.

In Dec. 15 and 16, Border Patrol agents caught 44 people attempting to cross the Falfurrias checkpoint illegally. All of them were hidden in tractor trailers.

"Every time I cross that checkpoint it's the same thing," said truck driver Juan Pena.

Pena passes through the checkpoint twice a week.

"I see people that Border Patrol agents taking off people from the trailers, big piece of... I don't know cocaine, marijuana, whatever it is,” he said.

Gilloon said they are focusing more on their inspections. He hopes the agency’s new effort, Operation Big Rig, will bring a new awareness to help make a difference.

Anyone who sees any suspicious activity is encouraged to call 911.

Pena said he double checks his cargo at truck stops more frequently, too.

"You stop over there to get fuel, to get something to eat or something like that. You have to be careful,  you have to inspect your trailer and if the shield is broken call the police because somebody's in there," said Pena.

Gilloon agrees with Pena and encourages drivers to call law enforcement if they see something out of the ordinary.

He said agents have access to 1,100 miles to try to stop people from going around the checkpoint.

Border Patrol added in the months of October and November, they had a total of seven tractor-trailer cases.


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