Border Patrol agents investigating possible human smuggling Thursday in West Texas found 33 people in sweltering conditions in the back of a box truck, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The agents with the Big Bend Sector were alerted to suspicious activity at about 10 p.m. near a fast food restaurant in Van Horn, a town about 27 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
They approached two vehicles and found 33 undocumented migrants in the cargo space of the U-Haul who were "close to perishing due to excessive heat and lack of fresh air in temperatures still hovering near 100 degrees," CBP said.
Twelve people were taken to regional hospitals and others were evaluated and treated at the scene for symptoms of dehydration, CBP said.
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No deaths were reported, and everyone recovered from their heat-related injuries, officials said.
They were processed according to Big Bend Sector protocols and Homeland Security Investigations accepted the case for prosecution, CBP said.
“Had our heroic agents not been able to free these trapped undocumented migrants, we could have seen 33 miserable deaths in this event,” said Big Bend Sector Chief Patrol Agent Sean L. McGoffin. “Smugglers do not care what type of misery they put people through as they take their money.”
In a separate case of human smuggling Sunday, border patrol agents stopped a U-Haul on Interstate 35 near the Laredo Sector immigration checkpoint and found 27 undocumented people, CBP said.
The temperature inside the unventilated cargo compartment was 106. All were placed under arrest along with the driver and passenger, both of whom are U.S. citizens.