The 34 undocumented immigrants who were located outside of a Truck and Travel Truck Stop near Weatherford paid to be smuggled into Texas in the back of a tractor-trailer. Chris Crawford, public information officer for the Weatherford Police Department, called the incident a “highly unusual situation” for Weatherford officers.
“Unfortunately these types of incidents occur regularly in larger metropolitan areas and border cities throughout the country. However, information provided by the immigrants, Weatherford was not their intended destination,” said Crawford.
The immigrants told police they paid someone to smuggle them into the U.S. at the El Paso-Juarez border. They were then held at a temporary house in El Paso. The smuggler then contracted with a truck driver to drive the immigrants to Dallas but the driver stopped in Weatherford and unloaded the 34 immigrants. Police do not know why the driver stopped.
All of the subjects are believed to be illegal immigrants from Mexico and Honduras. Weatherford Police contacted INS officials, who were able to verify the subjects had been illegally smuggled into the country. There were a mixture of males and females, along with three juveniles under the age of 17.
“All of the individuals were tired, hot and hungry. They had apparently been traveling in the rear of the hot trailer the entire day, ” Crawford said.
The Weatherford Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association volunteers were on scene to provide food and water.
Crawford said none of the individuals appeared to be in any type of medical distress, however they were all offered medical treatment on scene.
According to a release from Weatherford P.D., there are no state laws relating to being an undocumented immigrant or illegal immigrant which is why officers contacted INS officials to handle it on the federal level. None of the individuals have been charged with a criminal offense and none of them were arrested.
The individuals were only detained on an INS hold and housed at the Parker County Jail Monday night. The juveniles were taken to the Weatherford Police Department. Border Patrol agents picked up the immigrants Tuesday and processed them in Abilene.
As of Thursday, police say there is no evidence that any of the individuals were being held against their will or being held for forced labor. All indications appear to be non-U.S. citizens attempting to enter the country illegally to find work by utilizing an organized human smuggling group.
“Due to the heat and traveling conditions, these individuals are very lucky that no one had any significant medical issues,” Crawford said.
Police do not have a description of the truck or truck driver. The truck and driver were already gone from the area before officers arrived on scene. INS is interviewing the immigrants to gain more information regarding the human smuggling group.
There are no criminal charges against any of the individuals, they were only detained for their immigration status and held at the jail temporarily on an INS detainer.