According to a press release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 138 individuals were found in a tractor-trailer at a checkpoint west of Freer on December 4.
On December 5, another 80 foreign individuals were found inside a tractor-trailer at an I-35 checkpoint and “placed under arrest pending investigation by Homeland Security Investigation.”
CBP says that individuals being smuggled in both incidents were from the countries of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, and that “most of the 218 individuals were not wearing any personal protective equipment.”
“All subjects were medically evaluated for their safety and none required medical attention,” the release states.
Laredo Sector Chief Patrol Agent Matthew Hudak stated, “These two cases illustrate the dangerous amount of human smuggling using large commercial vehicles. These vehicles are not made to carry people, putting the aliens at risk of life threatening injury and offer no protection from COVID-19 or other infectious diseases.”
The two attempted smugglings of large groups of immigrants comes alongside a growing number of border patrol apprehensions in the Laredo CBP region.
Although many sectors saw skyrocketing apprehensions in the summer of last year, data from the department shows that monthly apprehensions are currently at over a two-year high.
CBP reports that 8,400 individuals were apprehended in the Laredo sector in October. Statistics for the month of November has not been released by the department at the time of publishing.
The number in the region is still lower than in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), the sector in Texas to the south of Laredo.
Apprehensions in the RGV for the month of October totaled over twice as high as Laredo at 17,600.
While the encounters across the entire southwestern border have not yet reached the peaks of mid-2019, when as many as 50,000 individuals were apprehended in the RGV in a single month, the number of apprehensions has been climbing nearly as high.