U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says there's no slow down in human smuggling activity during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. The agency's Rio Grande Valley and Loredo sectors report more than 40 human smuggling cases involving tractor-trailers since March 21, when coronavirus policies took effect. The two sectors are known hotspots for smuggling activities involving tractor-trailers.
In a press release, CBP described commercial tractor-trailers as "the conveyance of choice" for smugglers sneaking migrants into the United States. Needless to say, the tractor-trailers aren't ideal for practicing social distancing.
"The risk posed by these tractor-trailer loads increases dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic," said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott. "In recent weeks, our agents have discovered more than 360 people concealed in these dangerous and life [threatening] conditions," Chief Scott said about the Rio Grande Valley and Loredo Sectors.
On May 11, Border Patrol agents found 49 aliens concealed in a tractor-trailer during an inspection north of Laredo, Texas. The aliens were locked inside the vehicle, and smugglers showed little regard for the migrants' safety. According to CBP, smugglers often force migrants to stay in unsanitary stash houses and cramped compartments along their journey to the United States. In July 2017, more than 100 migrants were found packed inside a trailer outside a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas. Ten of the migrants died and 39 were treated for dehydration.
In an effort to combat human smuggling, the agency said its "leveraging its intelligence gathering and investigative capabilities" to identify, prosecute and dismantle criminal smuggling organizations and networks.