From the Weatherford Police Dept.
On Sunday, June 12, 2016 around 6:36 p.m., Weatherford Police received a phone call in reference to an 18 wheeler box truck that had stopped at the Truck and Travel Truckstop and unloaded several individuals from the back of the trailer.
Officers arrived on scene and found several undocumented immigrants walking in the parking lot and on the roadway near the business. Officers were able to locate most if not all of the individuals that came from inside the trailer and subsequently detained them. All of the subjects were believed to be undocumented immigrants of Hispanic origin from Mexico and/or Honduras.
Weatherford Police contacted INS Officials, who were able to verify the subjects had been illegally smuggled into the U.S. and dropped off in Weatherford. In total, 34 individuals were detained. The detainees were a mixture of males and females, along with three juveniles (teenagers under 17).
According to information provided by some of the immigrants, they paid a subject to smuggle them into the U.S. at the El Paso/Juarez border. They were then held temporarily at a house in El Paso. The smuggler then contracted with a truck driver to drive the immigrants from El Paso to Dallas. For unknown reasons, the truck driver did not take them all the way to Dallas and decided to stop in Weatherford to unload all of the immigrants.
All of the individuals were tired, hot and hungry. They had apparently been traveling in the rear of the hot trailer the entire day. The individuals detained had no idea where they were when our officers contacted them. The Weatherford Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association volunteers came out and provided them with food and water. None of the individuals appeared to be in any type of medical distress; however, they were all offered medical treatment on scene.
There are no state laws relating to being an undocumented immigrant or illegal immigrant, which is why Weatherford PD 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 Sunday night. The juveniles were taken to the Weatherford Police Department.
Border Patrol agents picked up the immigrants today Monday, June 13) and are processing them in Abilene. There is no evidence at this point that any of the individuals were being held against their will or being held for forced labor.
All indications at this point 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.
Unfortunately these types of incidents occur regularly in larger metropolitan areas and border cities throughout the country. However, from information provided by the immigrants, Weatherford was not their intended destination. This was a highly unusual situation for our officers. Once all of the subjects were located and they were able to figure out what the situation was, our main focus was to provide them with basic food, water and any needed medical attention.
We have no detailed description of the truck or truck driver at this time. The truck and driver were already gone from the area before officers arrived on scene. INS hopes to gain more information regarding the human smuggling group from their interviews over the coming hours and days. Again, there were 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.
If you have any information as to the identity of the truck or driver in this case, please contact the Weatherford Police Department.