Border Patrol agents in the Laredo sector of Texas discovered 149 undocumented migrants in a tractor-trailer on April 16, U.S. Customs and Border Protection disclosed on Monday.
The tractor-trailer approached a checkpoint on Interstate Highway 35 and agents opened the sealed cargo area to find 149 individuals locked inside, according to a CBP press release.
The migrants were determined to be in the U.S. illegally from Central American countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, El Salvador, Peru, and Ecuador. The commercial truck in question was driven by a U.S. citizen.
CBP said that none of the individuals in the sealed part of the vehicle had on personal protective equipment to curb the spread of COVID-19. The agency mentioned that there was an “increase in COVID-19 infections among details.” CBP further noted that “the transporting of large groups of people without PPE in close dangerous quarters.” Each person was medically screened and provided with PPE, Border Patrol said.
All 149 migrants and the driver were arrested and the U.S. Border Patrol took both the tractor and trailer into custody. The situation is now awaiting further investigation by Special Agents of Homeland Security Investigations.
“Human smugglers continue to have no regard for the safety and health of the people they exploit for profit,” CBP said.
The April 16 tractor-trailer apprehension is one of a number of smuggling incidents to have happened in last few months. On April 12, twenty people were found under the floorboards of a tractor-trailer at the Del Rio Sector of the border. On March 30, another 60 people were discovered in two tractor-trailers by Border Patrol.
More than 100,000 migrants arrived at the border in February and more than 172,000 arrived in March. Government officials predict that 117,000 migrant children could enter the U.S. by the end of 2021.
The southern border has experienced a large influx of undocumented migrants since President Joe Biden revoked former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy and halted construction on the border wall.