Last Monday I woke up to the very disturbing news of a freight truck that was found at a parking lot in San Antonio, TX transporting immigrants illegally from Mexico to the US. Eight dead people were found inside the trailer and more than a dozen survivors were sent to local hospitals. Two more died by Monday evening.
The San Antonio Police Department couldn’t get the exact number of immigrants that entered the country. Based on the evidence of the surveillance cameras located in the parking lot, several SUVs picked up groups of people on Sunday’s early hours before the authorities arrived at the crime scene.
Nonetheless, the testimony of a few survivors verify that there were at least 100 people in the container. They also said that they begged for water and food from the smugglers–known in Spanish as Coyotes–but were refused saying that the ride would be short and the air conditioning would be turned on.
Hours passed and the coyotes didn’t honor their promises. In the contrary, the AC remained off and the trailer became a sardine tin with a small ventilation hole that the passengers shared with desperation trying to survive the asphyxiation. Experts estimated that with an outside temperature of 110°F, the temperature inside the container could have easily reached 150°F.
So far, the only responsible held in federal custody without bail is the driver, James Bradley, a 60 year old man from Clearwater, Florida. According to the authorities, in his initial testimony Bradley alleged that he was hired as a driver and didn’t know the nature of the cargo until he stopped at Walmart to use the bathroom and heard the cries for help. He faces life sentence or the death penalty.
When I read the story the first question that came to mind was, did the coyotes develop a formula to shrink people so they could hide from the border patrol at the checkpoint? The answer is no. Human and drug traffickers have infiltrated the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Protection Agency by placing pawns in strategic positions that allow them to operate with total impunity.
In December of last year The New York Times published an article that revealed some of the most recent bribe cases that show the epidemic inside the DHS and the border patrol and the inefficient efforts to dismantle the corruption networks.
Although combating illegal immigration is a national security priority, the DHS and the Customs and Border Protection Agency currently only counts with 200 active internal affairs investigators which is 300 short of the actual employee corruption complaints.
Even though the San Antonio story breaks one’s heart, the days of its life span in the news cycle are numbered. The victims of this case will never have a name, and the master-minds of human trafficking will continue to take advantage of the desperation and profit from the poverty of their own countrymen. Blocking this lack of compassion will required more than a wall.
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