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DRIVER FLEES INTO BRUSH
A tanker truck driver who reportedly avoided the US Border Patrol checkpoint on IH-35 between Laredo and Cotulla was transporting 25 undocumented immigrants in his cab, according to officers who stopped the vehicle near Encinal.
The case developed Thursday, July 27, when Border Patrol officers noticed that the freighter had circumvented the checkpoint near the La Salle County line in northern Webb County, and agents were dispatched to intercept the northbound vehicle on the interstate.
The Encinal Police Department was summoned to assist in the case, and a patrol officer working under Operation Lone Star for border security joined the USBP agents in effecting the traffic stop.
Officers immediately discovered that the freighter’s sleeper cab had been stuffed with people, all of whom have since been identified as having entered the United States illegally.
There have been no reports of injuries to the passengers who had been stacked behind the truck seats and on the bed in the back of the cab.
The freight truck driver, who has yet to be identified, evaded capture by fleeing the scene on foot and could not be found in a subsequent search of the area, according to Encinal Police Chief Pablo Balboa in a brief statement Tuesday, August 1.
Third-degree felony charges of human smuggling for each of the undocumented immigrants will be filed against the driver if he is found. Those charges are enhanced to second-degree felonies if any of the immigrants are identified as under the age of 18.