Smugglers offer crammed big rigs as ‘VIP treatment’ to US

James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Florida, center, is escorted out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Monday, July 24, 2017, in San Antonio. Bradley was arrested in connection with the deaths of multiple people packed into a broiling tractor-trailer. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press SAN DIEGO (AP) 07/25 – When Thomas Homan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was awakened Sunday morning with news that migrants were found dead inside a sweltering tractor-trailer outside a San Antonio Walmart, his mind flashed back to 2003, when he stood at the back of a truck about 120 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio that carried 19 dead migrants.

“It is sad that 14 years later people are still being smuggled in tractor-trailers,” he said. “There still isn’t water, there still isn’t ventilation. These criminal organizations, they’re all about making money.”

The striking similarities of the Texas tragedies demonstrate how smugglers have found a durable business model carrying large groups — often in big rigs — through an elaborate network of foot guides, safe house operators and drivers. A criminal complaint about Sunday’s discovery that 10 were dead and dozens injured in the truck opens a window on their degree of sophistication and organizational muscle: passengers had color-coded tape to split into smaller groups; and six black SUVs awaited them at one transit point to bring them to their destinations.

Big rigs emerged as a popular smuggling method in the early 1990s amid a surge in U.S. border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, which were then the busiest corridors for illegal crossings. Before that, people paid small fees to mom-and-pop operators to get them across a largely unguarded border. As crossing became exponentially more difficult after the 2001 terror strikes in the U.S., migrants were led through more dangerous terrain and paid thousands of dollars more.

Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a political scientist who teaches at University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, said migrants she interviewed last year in South Texas paid $2,000 to $3,000 more to ride in the crammed tractor-trailers, considering them more effective, faster and safer than walking through the desert to a pickup point far from the border. Hundreds of border crossers perish each year in the desert, getting lost and dehydrated in extreme heat.

The growing use of trucks coincided with increased trade with Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement, allowing smugglers to more easily blend in with cargo, particularly on Interstate 35 from Laredo, Texas, to San Antonio, Correa-Cabrera said. Walking in the open desert more easily exposes them to U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Women, some carrying children, think they are less likely to be raped on a truck than in the open desert because there are more witnesses, Correia-Cabrera said. Riding in a big rig, she said, is “the VIP treatment.”

For smugglers, the advantage of tractor-trailers boils down to scale.

“It’s like any other business: the more they move, the more profit they make,” Homan said. “Rather than taking four in a car, the profit margin on tractor-trailers is a lot more.”

Truck drivers are low-level cogs in a big machine, recruited in the U.S. at casinos and other places where smuggling organizations look for people who are down on their luck, desperate for quick cash and disinclined to ask questions.

James Matthew Bradley Jr., who made an initial court appearance Monday in San Antonio on smuggling charges, told authorities he was delivering what he thought was a sold vehicle from Schaller, Iowa, to Brownsville, Texas, and that he didn’t know what was inside, according to the complaint. He said he was given no deadline or address to deliver the truck.

Other guides take migrants across Mexico by bus. Others join them on a raft across the Rio Grande or through the desert to a hideout or to a nearby house where they may wait days or weeks. Eventually smuggling organizations get them to major cities like Phoenix, Houston or San Antonio.

“I have to imagine that their winning percentage is really, really high,” said Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights advocacy group. “Whatever reputation they lose from episodes like this, their profit margins are still high enough to make it work. Otherwise people wouldn’t pay.”

___

https://www.apnews.com/4b99d133cf00468e838e9d7b026e13cc/Smugglers-offer-crammed-big-rigs-as-‘VIP-treatment’-to-US

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Posted in: Border Control, Border Patrol, Crime & Criminals, DHS, Homicide, Human Trafficking, ICE, Illegal Immigration, Injuries, Smuggling, Victims of Crime

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

18 − eleven =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.